Worldwide, the average life expectancy continues to follow its steady trend upward, despite small downward movements in certain areas of the world. Even as the United States' life expectancy shifts downward slightly to 78.6 years, the overall trend globally continues to improve due to improved healthcare.
Improving Preventive Measures Leads To Longer Lives
As technology improves and preventive care becomes more effective and widespread, life expectancy has been consistently increasing. More preventable conditions are being treated today than they have been historically, including conditions that were once seen as being separate from overall life expectancy. Research shows that those with 20 or more natural teeth at the age of 70 had a considerably higher life expectancy than those who didn’t. While previously, missing teeth may have been dismissed as unrelated to a longer life, more people have been receiving implants and preventive care to improve even these mostly cosmetic health issues, improving length of life.
Additionally, larger environmental measures are improving that contribute to improved health. In efforts to reduce pollution, certain parts of the world have improved air quality to an extent where the average life expectancy could improve by as much as three years. While not necessarily the result of preventive care, improved environmental conditions will certainly contribute to increasing life expectancy overall.
Diseases Being Cured, Survival Rates Climb
In addition to improved preventive care, technological advances have led to medical improvements worldwide, increasing the life expectancy worldwide. Major diseases like cancer have seen consistently improving survival rates over the past several years, a trend that looks to continue into the future. The cancer death rate dropped 26% from its peak of 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991, to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015. Many major diseases like this have seen similar improvements in survival rates, resulting in an increase in average life expectancy, even for those who do suffer from major illnesses.
Longer Lives, Struggling Economy?
As life expectancy continues to increase and more people survive into older ages, the economy may actually suffer in some regions in the world. In the United States, more than 10,000 people reach the retirement age of 65 each day. However, people are now surviving well past the original retirement age of 65, meaning retirement savings are needing to be stretched farther than originally intended.
This combined with shifting living costs in certain states is causing retirees to struggle financially. In Massachusetts, where life expectancy has been increasing, the cost of living tends to be higher, causing aging retirees to struggle to make ends meet. This situation is causing those beyond retirement age to return to work in order to afford costs of living as well as healthcare; however, this situation varies depending on location and economic situation.
Life expectancy will likely continue to increase into the future, following the overall trend set by previous years. However, there have been some indications that maybe this trend will change, as the United States' life expectancy had a slight turn downward for the first time in several years.