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Today is a great news day for people who want to continue living for as long as humanly possible. A study published by The Lancet and funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the US Environmental Agency has predicted that life expectancy will soon exceed 90 years. The life expectancy was 71.4 as recently as 2014, but the study predicts that the average lifespan will increase by 2030. The average for women in South Korea is highest, at 90.8, but the expectancy for women worldwide is expected to exceed 85 in many countries, coming in at slightly less for men.
The study utilises 21 different models of life expectancy, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the findings; nothing is definitive. Not only that, but it comes with many caveats: it is impossible to forecast disease outbreaks, natural disasters, climate change, nuclear war, etc – all of which could have an impact on how long people live. It also raises concerns about the kind of toll these kind of high life spans could have on countries due to the amount of health and social care needed.
Lead author, professor Majid Ezzati, said, "It is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place. 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."
Traditionally men have had a shorter life expectancy than women due to their unhealthier lifestyles, and even with these new findings there's a gap between theirs and that of women. However, a study by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation has found that British men are closing the gap. Previously, British men born in 2010 were expected to live until 78.3 and women until 82.3. Now, says the study, for men born in 2030 there will be a gap of just 2.8 years. This is thought to be not only due to men changing their lifestyles to become healthier – cutting down on drinking and smoking heavily, in particular – but because of a general growing similarity between men and women's lifestyles.
Ezzati said, "Men traditionally had unhealthier lifestyles, and so shorter life expectancies. They smoked and drank more, and had more road traffic accidents and homicides. However, as lifestyles become more similar between men and women, so does their longevity."