Life expectancy set to hit 90 in South Korea

South Korea is not only the first country in the world where women may live past 90 on average it is also the one on track to log the biggest jump in longevity

The average for women at birth will exceed 85 years in many countries, but South Korea is projected to lead the way with a life expectancy of 90.8 years, the report said.

The study incorporates 21 different models of life expectancy to try to come to a definitive prediction of the future, but the authors say there is still uncertainty.

"Not only does the US have high and rising health inequalities, but also life expectancy has stagnated or even declined in some population subgroups", the authors added.

Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, who led the research, said: "We repeatedly hear that..."

South Koreans also have relatively equal access to health care, lower blood pressure than people in Western countries and low rates of smoking among women. "This shows that even if there is a limit to longevity, we are nowhere near it", he added.

"The social implications of this change will also likely require changes to pensions and retirement".

While the researchers predict that life expectancy is likely to rise across all 35 countries, the size of increase varies. In 2030, men here can expect to live to 79 and women 83 - increases of just a couple of years. Life expectancy there already lags behind that of other developed nations, and is predicted to be among the lowest of these countries by 2030.

An global team of scientists developed forecasting models to project life expectancy for those born in 2010 and 2030 in 35 industrialized countries. "We should be planning for more life".

"Notable among poor-performing countries is the United States of America, whose life expectancy at birth is already lower than most other high-income countries, and is projected to fall further behind such that its 2030 life expectancy at birth might be similar to the Czech Republic for men, and Croatia and Mexico for women", the authors write. Most impressively, they found that in South Korea, life expectancy in women could jump from 84 in 2010 to 91 by 2030.

A country with high childhood mortality rates will lower national life expectancy. "The poor recent and projected US performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care".

Compared to other rich countries, the United States' homicide, obesity, and child mortality rate are also working against its citizens.

The researchers calculated a country's life expectancy at birth by assessing the age at which people die across the whole population.

Methuselah lived to the age of 969 in the Bible.

Researchers warn that the world's aging population will present a significant challenge for health services. "Our predictions of increasing lifespans highlight our public health and healthcare successes".

"It's a very important issue that governments have to address now because there will be an ever-increasing cost to having an aged population", Dr Bennett said.
"In particular, we will need to both strengthen our health and social care systems and to establish alternative models of care, such as technology assisted home care".

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