Here’s the good news: According to a comprehensive new study, the average life expectancy will increase globally by 2030, with South Korean women born that year expected to live 90.8 years, the longest of the 35 countries analyzed. Here’s the bad news: Americans will die younger than their international peers and possibly even shorter than their parents.
To predict the average life expectancy in 2030, researchers at the World Health Organization and Imperial College London used 21 forecasting models to analyze the life expectancy in 35 industrialized countries that are part of a coalition dedicated to collecting and analyzing data to foster economic development. They predicted that American women born in 2030 will, on average, live 83.3 years, while men will live to 79.5. Of the “high-income” countries studied, the United States had the highest number of murders and child and maternal mortality rates. Our great nation also had the highest body-mass index, and is “the first of high-income countries to experience a halt or possibly reversal of increase in height in adulthood, which is associated with higher longevity.”
Along with countries like Macedonia and Serbia, the United States has some of the lowest life expectancy gains thanks in part to “chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care.” In short, thanks to our country’s inequity, obesity, and violence, the next generation might look like Danny DeVito and die even younger than their Polish counterparts.
The study is clear about why the United States is so far behind. Of the 35 countries the study looked at, the US is the only one that doesn’t grant its citizens universal health care coverage, which means it also has “the largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs.” The best way to extend life expectancy, the study concludes, “is an equitable and effective health system that provides universal free access to high-quality primary and secondary care for prevention and treatment.”
To ensure future Americans grow-up tall and die old, there’s a pretty straightforward solution: Healthcare, like freedom of speech or goddamn guns, must become a fundamental right.