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Life Expectancy Shorter In Women And Poorer Countries

Armen Hareyan's picture

Life expectancy in US drops especially in women and people living in poorer countries.

A team of researchers at Harvard University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Washington examined statistical data from 1983 and 1999 from National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate life expectancy for men and women and to uncover disparities in life expectancy caused by social conditions in different countries.

About 1000 countries are included in the research, but the conclusions are mainly based on results from 180 countries showing 1.3 year average decline in woman life expectancy. Men life expectancy showed 1.3 year average decline in 11 countries only. Some other 783 countries reported 0.5 year average decline in woman life expectancy, but these countries are too small to report statistically valuable results.

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The decline in woman life expectancy is mainly caused by smoking, obesity and high blood pressure in Appalachia, Mississippi River and Texas areas. The rise of death rates in general is mainly caused by cancers, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Man death cases were pushed up by HIV/AIDS and increased homicide cases. Deaths associated with cardiovascular diseases showed significant decline. Disparities exist in races as well, reporting that white people live longer than black people.

During the period between 1961 and 1983 none of the examined countries reported significant increase in mortality rates. However, starting from 1983 death rates started rising, especially in poorer countries.

Report accounts an overall increased life expectancy in both men and women during this period, but the issue of life expectancy decline remains unsolved among women and poorer country residents. From 1983 and 1999 life expectancy rouse from 66.9 to 74.1 years for men and from 73.5 to 79.6 years for women. According to another study reported by CDC in 2007 life expectancy was about 78 years in 2005, and US was ranked as the 42nd in the world in life expectancy scale.

Life expectancy is generally an effective way of measuring overall health system of particular countries. Countries with poorer social condition usually have lower life expectancy and educational achievement rates. This report indicates that US, although being a developed country, is showing life expectancy decline, urging the need of improvements in health care system.