Saturday, August 23, 2014

Did you know this about life expectancy?

This graph is from an article in The Economist which says:

Despite fears that obesity and global warming would reverse the trend, life expectancy in rich countries has grown steadily, by about 2.5 years a decade, or 15 minutes every hour (see chart).
We expect life expectancy to increase as child survival improves, maternal mortality drops and as the medical profession learns to prolong life for those suffering from one disease after another. Remember, life expectancy is based on mortality rates at the moment of estimation. So it is not surprising that in 1970 experts predicted that life expectancy would increase from its value at the time in a relatively linear fashion to more than 72 years by 2000. (They were far too conservative.)

In subsequent years, starting from the year in which each estimate was made, that estimate continued to project improvements in life expectancy. Of course, the starting points of the annual estimates tracked the actual increases in life expectancy.

The data in the United States are similar to those in Britain (although not as good) and other developed nations. The fact that life expectancy has improved by 2.5 years per decade for a century is both amazing and wonderful. I think that can not continue indefinitely; the graphs agree with me that the rate of extension of life expectancy tends to trail off in the out years.

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