Life Expectancy In the Future

Yasemin Saplakoglu, a staff writer with Live Science, explains what could happen with our life expectancy by 2040.  He feels the way things are going now, by 2040 we are probably going to be better off than we are today.  On the average both women and men will have a 4.4 years higher rate.  The new report was published in the journal The Lancet.  However, the public health choices and policy decisions could either make us succeed or fail, depending upon the path we choose.  The worst scenario would be a decreased life expectancy in about 1/2 of the world’s countries.

The researchers created a model that projected the health outcomes and also major causes of death for the year 2040 in 195 countries and territories.  A previous study looked at such factors in global populations between 1990 and 2016, which was the model this study was based after.  There were 79 drivers of health also factored in the study. These included smoking, body mass index, clean water, good sanitation conditions, fertility measurements, income and education.  Three separate scenarios were most-likely, better-health and worse-health.  Researchers plugged in numbers to predict the scenarios forecasts.

Life expectancy in the U.S. is projected to be 79.8 years in 2040 which is 1.1 years up from the 2016 estimate.  There would be greater improvements in other parts of the world, as Syria.  The expectancy of life is also projected to exceed 85 for both men and women in Japan, Singapore, Spain and will top 80 in 59 other countries, including China.  It also predicts that deaths from several noninfectious diseases will rise.

Our world health is not preordained so there is a wide range of plausible trajectories, according to lead author Kyle Foreman, director of data science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

These scenarios show a precarious vision of the future.  It shows accelerating technology providing a great opportunity to push toward the better scenario on one hand, while an absence of policy action could put the world into the worse scenario.  Men could gain an additional 7.8 years on average by 2040 and women could gain 7.2 years on average.  That would increase by at least 5 years in 158 countries and by at least 10 years in 46 of those.

The worse scenario projection is going down in about 1/2 of the countries with the most striking cause from HIV-AIDS, increasing by 120% in deaths.  This all depends on how well or poorly the health systems address the key health drivers that can lead to early death from high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco and alcohol usage.  Inequalities between the countries will continue to be large as too many people in a number of countries will continue earning low incomes, remain poorly education and die prematurely.

Countries must help people tackle the major risks of smoking and poor diet.  Technical innovation and increased health spending are crucial to help these countries.

Dr Fredda Branyon