While they may not have found the fountain of youth – at least, that we know of – a handful of countries are expected to outlive the rest of us.
Using data compiled from the Global Burden of Disease study analyzing 250 causes of death, researchers forecasted the average life expectancy in 295 nations in the year 2040 under a number of alternative scenario predictions. Best case, all countries will probably experience a slight increase in lifespan over the next two decades. Worse case? Nearly half of nations represented could face lower life expectancies.
The researchers suggest there will be an increase in death from injuries, such as car accidents, and non-communicable diseases, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, diabetes, lung cancer, and other health issues linked to obesity. The top driving factors contributing to these deaths include high blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar, tobacco and alcohol use, and air pollution. But these gains and falls will be felt disproportionately across the world.
"The future of the world's health is not pre-ordained, and there is a wide range of plausible trajectories," said lead author Dr Kyle Foreman in a statement. "But whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers."
In 2016, China’s average life expectancy was 76.3 years, putting the nation at 68th in the world. In 2040, life expectancy could jump to 81.9 years for a rank of 39th. Syria is expected to rise the most, from 137th to 80th, probably because of the author’s conservative model for resolving conflict. Other countries with significant gains include Nigeria (157 to 123) and Indonesia (117 to 100).