Countries By Life Expectancy

When children are born, their parents or society expect them to live as long as possible. However, the number of years a person can live depends on their exposure to risks, accidents, diseases, birth events (complications at birth), and the general life expectancy of the society they are born into.

According to the United Nations, the global average life expectancy is 72.6 years. However, women have higher life expectancy than men, despite their higher morbidity rate. Today’s global average life expectancy is higher than any other nation in 1950. Norway, which had the best health care system, had a life expectancy of 72.3 years in 1950. Over the last seven decades, the global average life expectancy has increased by about 25 years. People from all world regions now live a little longer than they did 70 years ago.

However, the average life expectancies of the populations of countries continue to vary widely across the world from 89.4 years for Monaco to 53.25 for Afghanistan. Several factors like the status of economic wellbeing of the nation, living standards, healthcare facilities, education, health behaviors of the population, etc., influence life expectancy. 

This article discusses how the life expectancy varies across the world and which countries have the lowest and highest life expectancies and why.

What Is Life Expectancy?

Life expectancy is the average number of years that a person in a given population is expected to live after attaining “X” years. Mostly, the base age (age X) selected for determining the life expectancy of an individual is 0.0 years. That is, the years a person is expected to live immediately they are born. However, for policy analysis, such as determining an individual’s years of Social Security and Medicare benefits, base ages such as 65 or 75 are often used.

Although life expectancy is the age a person is expected to be at the point of his/her death, not everyone will die at the indicated age even if the mortality pattern in the society remains constant. Some people may die earlier or later since exposure to risks leading to death does not remain uniform in one’s lifetime. Thus, life expectancy is the average years and not the actual years a person is expected to live.

Countries With Life Expectancy Of Over 80 Years

Rank

Country

Life Expectancy In years

1

Monaco

89.40

2

Singapore

86.19

3

Japan

84.65

4

San Marino

83.68

5

Canada

83.62

6

Iceland

83.45

7

Andorra

83.23

8

Israel

83.15

9

Switzerland

83.03

10

Malta

83.00

11

Australia

82.89

12

South Korea

82.78

13

Luxembourg

82.78

14

Italy

82.67

15

Sweden

82.60

16

France

82.39

17

Liechtenstein

82.36

18

Norway

82.35

19

New Zealand

82.33

20

Spain

82.21

21

Austria

82.07

22

Netherlands

81.95

23

Belgium

81.65

24

Slovenia

81.61

25

Finland

81.55

26

Denmark

81.45

27

Ireland

81.45

28

Germany

81.30

29

United Kingdom

81.30

30

Portugal

81.29

31

Greece

81.28

32

United States

80.43

Over 100 countries have a higher life expectancy than the global average. Over the years, most countries have achieved improved health care systems, leading to an increase in average life expectancy. 32 countries have a life expectancy of at least 80 years, the majority of which are European countries. Monaco, a city state and microstate along the French Riviera in Western Europe has the highest life expectancy of 89.4 years. It is followed by Singapore, a city-state in Southeast Asia with a life expectancy of 86.19. The next three positions are occupied by Japan (84.65), San Marino (83.68), and Canada (83.62). The United States ranks 32nd with a life expectancy of 80.43.

10 Countries With Highest Life Expectancy

Top 10 countries by average life expectancy
Top 10 countries by average life expectancy.

Life expectancy is highest in most of the world’s wealthiest countries. Of the 32 countries with life expectancy of more than 80 years, majority are in Europe. Some Singapore, Japan, Israel, and South Korea are in Asia, Canada and the United States are in North America, and Australia and New Zealand are in Oceania. These countries have some of the best health care systems, supported by strong governmental policies on health, advanced medicine, and improved nutrition. Besides health care, the high standard of living and provision of standard education is also responsible for the high life expectancy in these countries. In some Asian countries like Japan, regular physical activities and healthy diets also contribute to the high life expectancy.

Top 10 Countries By Life Expectancy

Countries With Life Expectancy Below 65 Years

Rank

Country

Life Expectancy in years

1

Afghanistan

53.25

2

Central African Republic

55.07

3

Somalia

55.32

4

Mozambique

56.49

5

South Sudan

58.60

6

Chad

58.73

7

Lesotho

58.90

8

Eswatini

59.13

9

Niger

59.70

10

Sierra Leone

60.19

11

Nigeria

60.87

12

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

61.43

13

Congo, Republic of the

61.69

14

Angola

61.71

15

Cote d'Ivoire

61.80

16

Benin

61.82

17

Mali

62.01

18

Cameroon

62.79

19

Zimbabwe

62.83

20

Burkina Faso

63.06

21

Guinea-Bissau

63.26

22

Guinea

63.53

23

Senegal

63.83

24

Mauritania

64.86

Most of the countries with the lowest life expectancies are in Africa. 24 countries have life expectancy of less than 65 years. 23 of the 24 countries are in Africa. Afghanistan, the only country from Asia among these 24 countries, has the lowest life expectancy in the world of only 53.25 years.

Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Lesotho have the world’s lowest life expectancies at 54 years. North African countries like Algeria (77.79), Tunisia (76.57), and and Morocco (73.56) have the highest life expectancies in Africa. These North African countries have allocations for their health care systems, with health interventions that benefit the population, leading to higher life expectancies than Sub-Saharan African countries. 

10 Countries With Lowest Life Expectancy

Countries with lowest life expectancy

Most African countries and some developing countries globally have lower life expectancies for several reasons. However, the major contributing factor is inadequate access to healthcare. Most households have low incomes or financial resources to access proper healthcare. Besides access to healthcare, widespread of diseases such as HIV, cancer, malaria, and diabetes affect the quality of life and life expectancy in most African xountries.

In Afghanistan, apart from lack of adequate health care and malnutrition, constant conflicts, and wars contribute to high death rates and lower life expectancy.

Location Map of Bottom 10 Countries By Life Expectancy

Calculating Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is estimated by predicting an individual’s survival probability, based on trends of the age-specific mortality rates. Estimating the age-specific mortality rate involves counting the number of deaths within a specific age range at a given time then dividing by the total number of people of the same age range who are alive at a given point within the same interval. For instance, the number of people aged 20-25 years who died in 2010 divided by the number of people aged 20-25 who are alive in 2020.

The fraction obtained above is used to calculate a “life table” which shows the evolving survival probabilities and life expectancies by age. There are two categories of life expectancy; cohort and period life expectancy. Cohort life expectancy is the mean life length of all individuals born in a specific year. Period life expectancy is the average life length of all individuals born in a specific year assumed to be exposed to observed mortality rates at a given time.

Why Measure Life Expectancy?

Life expectancy is an important aspect of demography. It highlights the characteristics and future trends of a given population. It is one of the tools policymakers use in measuring a nation’s Human Development Index. Countries with higher life expectancies score higher HDI than countries with lower life expectancies. Apart from HDI, it also helps in describing an area’s physical quality of life. Populations with high average life expectancies are assumed to be enjoying better life because they have access to essential facilities, like hospitals.

Life expectancy also helps in implementing social support programs such as pension and social security funds. Knowing future trends in life expectancy enables governments to forecast the number of recipients likely to benefit and the amount to allocate for these social programs. Health experts can also consider life expectancy when choosing a health intervention strategy.

Rank

Country

Life Expectancy in years

1

Monaco

89.40

2

Singapore

86.19

3

Japan

84.65

4

San Marino

83.68

5

Canada

83.62

6

Iceland

83.45

7

Andorra

83.23

8

Israel

83.15

9

Switzerland

83.03

10

Malta

83.00

11

Australia

82.89

12

South Korea

82.78

13

Luxembourg

82.78

14

Italy

82.67

15

Sweden

82.60

16

France

82.39

17

Liechtenstein

82.36

18

Norway

82.35

19

New Zealand

82.33

20

Spain

82.21

21

Austria

82.07

22

Netherlands

81.95

23

Belgium

81.65

24

Slovenia

81.61

25

Finland

81.55

26

Denmark

81.45

27

Ireland

81.45

28

Germany

81.30

29

United Kingdom

81.30

30

Portugal

81.29

31

Greece

81.28

32

United States

80.43

33

Bahrain

79.67

34

Qatar

79.58

35

Chile

79.57

36

Cyprus

79.51

37

Czechia

79.50

38

Panama

79.47

39

Costa Rica

79.41

40

Cuba

79.41

41

United Arab Emirates

79.37

42

Albania

79.23

43

Kuwait

78.90

44

Saint Lucia

78.71

45

Lebanon

78.53

46

Poland

78.53

47

Barbados

78.31

48

Uruguay

78.19

49

Brunei

78.14

50

Paraguay

78.13

51

Argentina

78.07

52

Slovakia

78.07

53

Dominica

77.96

54

Algeria

77.79

55

Ecuador

77.76

56

Sri Lanka

77.75

57

Bosnia and Herzegovina

77.74

58

Estonia

77.63

59

Antigua and Barbuda

77.55

60

Montenegro

77.51

61

Thailand

77.41

62

Tonga

77.29

63

Georgia

77.25

64

Croatia

76.97

65

Hungary

76.95

66

Mexico

76.94

67

Libya

76.93

68

Colombia

76.91

69

Saint Kitts and Nevis

76.83

70

Mauritius

76.70

71

Maldives

76.69

72

Oman

76.64

73

Tunisia

76.57

74

Serbia

76.56

75

Solomon Islands

76.45

76

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

76.43

77

Saudi Arabia

76.40

78

China

76.31

79

Romania

76.30

80

Turkey

75.96

81

Bahamas, The

75.87

82

Malaysia

75.87

83

Armenia

75.86

84

Seychelles

75.84

85

Jordan

75.75

86

Latvia

75.65

87

Lithuania

75.61

88

Belize

75.56

89

Jamaica

75.49

90

Grenada

75.48

91

Bulgaria

75.30

92

Vietnam

75.25

93

El Salvador

75.11

94

Iran

75.06

95

Uzbekistan

75.03

96

Brazil

74.98

97

Peru

74.96

98

Samoa

74.92

99

Trinidad and Tobago

74.92

100

Honduras

74.90

101

Vanuatu

74.87

102

Nicaragua

74.51

103

Bangladesh

74.43

104

Marshall Islands

74.38

105

Palau

74.38

106

Micronesia, Federated States of

74.17

107

Belarus

74.01

108

Egypt

74.01

109

Syria

74.01

110

Fiji

74.00

111

Azerbaijan

73.88

112

Suriname

73.57

113

Morocco

73.56

114

Cabo Verde

73.47

115

Ukraine

73.18

116

Iraq

72.90

117

Indonesia

72.82

118

Guatemala

72.63

119

Dominican Republic

72.28

120

Kazakhstan

72.25

121

Venezuela

72.22

122

Malawi

72.16

123

Moldova

72.16

124

Russia

72.16

125

Nepal

72.12

126

Kyrgyzstan

72.07

127

Korea, North

71.65

128

Guyana

71.59

129

Turkmenistan

71.54

130

Bhutan

71.50

131

Mongolia

71.08

132

Togo

70.99

133

Bolivia

70.70

134

Philippines

70.32

135

India

70.03

136

Tanzania

69.90

137

Papua New Guinea

69.86

138

Burma

69.62

139

Timor-Leste

69.62

140

Gabon

69.37

141

Pakistan

69.37

142

Kenya

69.32

143

Tajikistan

69.06

144

Ghana

69.01

145

Uganda

68.58

146

Tuvalu

68.07

147

Ethiopia

67.90

148

Madagascar

67.86

149

Nauru

67.62

150

Kiribati

67.59

151

Yemen

67.18

152

Burundi

67.07

153

Comoros

66.90

154

Sudan

66.79

155

Sao Tome and Principe

66.72

156

Eritrea

66.51

157

Equatorial Guinea

66.35

158

Cambodia

66.27

159

Gambia, The

66.15

160

Laos

66.00

161

Zambia

65.92

162

Namibia

65.87

163

Haiti

65.61

164

Rwanda

65.48

165

Botswana

65.24

166

Liberia

65.10

167

South Africa

65.04

168

Djibouti

65.00

169

Mauritania

64.86

170

Senegal

63.83

171

Guinea

63.53

172

Guinea-Bissau

63.26

173

Burkina Faso

63.06

174

Zimbabwe

62.83

175

Cameroon

62.79

176

Mali

62.01

177

Benin

61.82

178

Cote d'Ivoire

61.80

179

Angola

61.71

180

Republic of the Congo

61.69

181

Democratic Republic of the Congo

61.43

182

Nigeria

60.87

183

Sierra Leone

60.19

184

Niger

59.70

185

Eswatini

59.13

186

Lesotho

58.90

187

Chad

58.73

188

South Sudan

58.60

189

Mozambique

56.49

190

Somalia

55.32

191

Central African Republic

55.07

192

Afghanistan

53.25

193

North Macedonia

Data not available

194

Palestine

Data not available

195

Vatican City

Data not available

Table: Countries By Life Expectancy. Source: CIA

Please note: Data is not available for North Macedonia, Palestine, and Vatican City in the above source.

As per World Bank, the life expectancies of North Macedonia and Palestine are 76 and 74 years, respectively.

Vatican City, the life expectancy is 74 years (men), 81 years (women) according to BBC.

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