One chart shows why people are living longer

Here’s some good news: people around the world are living longer.

According to a recently released US Census Bureau report on global demographics and ageing, the average life expectancy worldwide has improved by 30 years since 1970.

Looking at three regions around the globe — high-income countries, medium-income European countries, and Latin America and the Caribbean — the Census Bureau found that the largest driver of increased life expectancy is the treatment of heart disease and diabetes.

“In high-income countries, reduction in cardiovascular disease and diabetes mortality contributed a gain of 3.0 years in life expectancy for men and 4.3 years for women.”

However, tobacco-related deaths in developed countries have been going in opposite directions for men and women.

“For men reductions in tobacco-caused mortality contributed to another 2.0 years of gain in life expectancy. On the other hand, an increase in tobacco-related deaths among women has limited their gains in life expectancy at age 60 in high-income countries.”

The study also found similar patterns in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The one drag across the board on life expectancy was the growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

“Between 1990 and 2013, the number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) has increased by 42 per cent; and the largest increases in the proportion of global deaths took place among the population aged 80 and over,” said the report.

According to the Census Bureau, much of this is due to people living longer. With a heightened life expectancy, people are more likely to die of sicknesses such as kidney disease which do not show up in younger people.

So overall, it’s an encouraging sign, and the report said it is only going to get better as worldwide life expectancy is anticipated to increase from its current 68.6 years to 76.2 by 2050.

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