Findings of a new study have revealed that life expectancy in the United States is lower compared with most high-income countries in the world and the U.S. is likely to fall even further behind by the year 2030.
Life Expectancy In The US By 2030
The study, a collaboration of researchers from the Imperial College London in the UK and the World Health Organization, found that the U.S. will likely have the lowest life expectancy by the year 2030 among high-income countries.
Government figures show that life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is at 76.3 years for men and 81.2 years for women. Using several forecasting models, researchers of the new study predicted that this will improve to 79.5 years for men and 83.3 years for women 13 years from now.
Despite these forecasted gains, the U.S. would still lag behind other developed countries. The forecasted life expectancy is, in fact, comparable to those of middle-income countries like Mexico and Croatia.
Factors Behind Low Life Expectancy In The US
The study blamed low life expectancy in the U.S. on lack of universal health care as well as other factors such as high maternal and child mortality rates, obesity, and high rates of homicide. The U.S. lacks universal health care coverage that is available for people in other high-income countries. The country also has the biggest share of unmet healthcare needs because of financial costs.
"Not only does the USA have high and rising health inequalities, but also life expectancy has stagnated or even declined in some population subgroups," the researchers wrote. "Therefore, the poor recent and projected US performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care."
Opposite Of South Korea
Researchers likewise noted that the U.S. is almost the opposite of South Korea, where women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy of more than 90. Researchers attributed South Korea's greater average life expectancy to several factors which include good childhood nutrition, good health care access, low levels of smoking, low blood pressures, and new medical knowledge and technologies.
"[Society in the US is] very unequal to an extent the whole national performance is affected - it is the only country without universal health insurance," said Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College London. "And it is the first country that has stopped growing taller, which shows something about early life nutrition."
Researchers of the study, however, said that they did not take into account certain changes within countries that may influence life expectancy such as the possibility of major political upheaval which can impact social and healthcare systems.
Unlike other studies which tend to rely on a single model to predict life expectancy, the research, which was published in The Lancet on Feb. 21, used a statistical technique used in weather forecasting to develop 21 models that would predict life expectancy in developed countries across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and Latin America.