Here's Where People Are Living Longer

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 - 09:55 PM

With improvements in medical care and living standards in many countries around the world, the 20th century saw a dramatic increase in life expectancy at birth.

While some of the most significant gains are apparent between 1900 and 1950, apart from the immediate effects of World War II, due to a variety of economic and political developments, even the past 50 years saw a steady uptick in the estimated lifespans of the world's population. For example, the worldwide average lifespan of a person born in 1971 was 58, while in 2021, this number rose to 71, an increase of roughly 19 percent.

And, as Statista's Florian Zandt details below, there are some countries around the world where this jump has been even more pronounced.

Infographic: Where Has Life Expectancy Increased? | Statista

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To guarantee better comparability and show a more varied picture, we used World Bank data for these two new years and calculated the three countries per continent with the biggest percentage change in life expectancy.

Bangladesh ranked first not only in Asia but the whole world. Life expectancy at birth in the Asian nation jumped from 26 in 1971 to 72 in 2021.

While this number is impressive, it coincides with an external factor decreasing the chance of a long life: the Bangladesh War of Independence of 1971 between Pakistan and Bengali nationalists, whose victory laid the groundwork for the foundation of Bangladesh. The year prior, people in East Pakistan, as it was then called, had a life expectancy of 43, which would mark a 40.6 percent increase compared with 2021.

Apart from Bangladesh, countries on the African and Asian continent, which in this definition includes the Arab peninsula, Turkey and Russia, exhibited the biggest percentage increases in life expectancy at birth, with the Americas coming in third due to increases in nations like Guatemala, El Salvador and Bolivia.

While the two biggest post-WW-II superpowers, the United States and Russia, then the USSR, only saw life expectancy increases of seven and two percent, respectively, some countries in post-war Europe also saw double-digit growth in this regard.

Malta and Luxembourg ranking second and third might be explained by the influx of high-net-worth individuals and their better access to medical care and other amenities. Portugal taking the top spot in Europe with a percentage increase of roughly 18 percent is harder to explain. Experts cite a variety of factors like increased political stability since the ratification of its constitution in 1976, leaving the European Free Trade Association it co-founded in 1960 for the European Economic Community in 1986 together with Spain, and the country's climate, diet and communal lifestyle contributing to overall better health.