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Higher-income countries boast highest life expectancy rates, says new study

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While there are many key factors to living a long life apparently where you live may be among the more important factors. According to recent World Health Organization (WHO) study there is a major divide between the rich and the poor with regard to life expectancy.

The study shows that while low-income countries have made progress, with an average increase in life expectancy by 9 years from 1990 to 2012, a child born in 2012 in a high-income country has a far greater chance to live a much longer life than those born in low income countries.

"An important reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday," explained Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general. "But there is still a major rich-poor divide: people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries." 

The numbers are very telling with regard to this trend and the numbers are even more telling when you separate males from females. According the WHO report, a boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can expect to live to the age of around 76, about16 years longer than a boy born in a low-income country (age 60). For girls, the difference is even wider; a gap of 19 years separates life expectancy in high-income (82 years) and low-income countries (63 years).

The report points out much of the gain in life expectancy in high-income countries is due to the success they are having in tackling non-communicable diseases as the researchers have discovered that fewer men and women are dying before they get to their 60th birthday from heart disease and stroke. As an example the study points out the more wealthy countries have clearly become better at monitoring and managing high blood pressure. 

As far as what countries people are living longest in - for men Iceland heads the list with a life expectancy of 81.2 years and for women it's Japan at 87. Rounding out the top for five countries for men were Switzerland (80.7), Australia (80.5), Israel (80.2) and Singapore (80.2). On the women's side the top five countries they are living longest in after Japan were Spain (85.1), Switzerland (85.1), Singapore (85.1) and Italy (85).

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