17 May 2024

Life expectancy will increase by five years by 2050

Analyses of the global burden of disease have shown that global life expectancy will increase by five years between 2022 and 2050, but this increase will be slower than in the three decades preceding the covida pandemic. Most of this increase will come from increases in life expectancy in regions with relatively low life expectancy (such as sub-Saharan Africa). The results of the analysis are published in The Lancet.

Comprehensive projections and alternative scenarios of the future burden of disease are essential for the development of national health programmes around the world. A key feature of health projections is that they take into account changes in population size and age composition.

Full-fledged population estimates are needed to assess the impact of, for example, population ageing on the burden of disease. Similarly, the widespread decline in fertility observed in recent decades has implications for future schools and education systems, the size of the labour force and the ability of pension systems to support growing numbers of older people. Developing projections about the burden of disease is therefore a regular occurrence.

A collaboration of scientists led by Simon Hay of the University of Washington has expanded country-level disease burden projections to include the burden of non-fatal diseases and current estimates of the number of disability-adjusted years and life expectancy for 204 countries and territories by 2050.

In the baseline scenario, the researchers projected continued growth in life expectancy worldwide between 2022 (life expectancy 73.6 years) and 2050 (life expectancy 78.2 years). However, this growth will be much slower than in the three decades preceding the covid pandemic. Between 1990 and 2019, life expectancy worldwide increased by an average of 0.27 years annually, but after 2022 it will increase by only 0.16 years annually.

Notably, countries with lower life expectancy in 2022 are expected to see the largest increases in life expectancy in the coming decades. However, the highest life expectancy in 2050 in the baseline scenario will be in high-income countries, followed by South-East Asia, East Asia and Oceania, and Latin America. However, life expectancy growth will be slowest in rich countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, life expectancy will increase from 64.4 years in 2022 to 73.6 years in 2050, the largest projected increase. By 2050, global life expectancy for men will be just over 75 years and for women just over 80 years. And it will increase more among men (4.9 years) than women (4.2 years). Healthy life expectancy in 2050 will be 66 years for men and 67.5 years for women.

In the baseline scenario, the reduction in mortality from cardiovascular diseases was the main factor behind the increase in life expectancy worldwide (35.4 per cent of the total increase in life expectancy). Reductions in mortality from respiratory infections and tuberculosis contributed most to the increase in life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly due to reductions in covidae. Globally, reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality were the third largest contributor to increased life expectancy, followed in descending order by intestinal infections, chronic respiratory diseases, neoplasms, HIV infection and sexually transmitted infections.

Researchers conclude that due to population growth and ageing, the number of deaths and disability years from all causes will increase. However, if prevention programmes targeting various risk factors are maintained and increased, it is feasible to increase life expectancy across the planet, despite growing geopolitical, climatic and environmental challenges.

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version