Spain will soon overtake Japan in the global life expectancy ratings for the first time, according to a new report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to CNN, who analyzed the data published in the journal Lancet, people from Spain will live for 85.8 years on average by the year 2040. Those living in Japan are expected to have an average lifespan of 85.7 years over the same time period, people in Singapore can expect to live 85.4 years, and the Swiss round out the top four and can expect to live 85.2 years.
But, while Spain and other nations are rising in life expectancy rankings, the United States is plummeting. The U.S. will drop from 43rd to 64th place, with an average life expectancy of 79.8 by the year 2040. Those living in the U.S. will live only 1.1 years longer on average by 2040, CNN explained, while, on average, other countries will see their life expectancy rise 4.4 years over the same period.
Of course, this by no measure means our life expectancy is set in stone.
“Whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers,” Kyle Foreman, director of data science at the (IHME) and lead author of the study, shared with CNN. “The future of the world’s health is not pre-ordained, and there is a wide range of plausible trajectories.”
Indeed, healthcare systems played a big part in the global ranking. Spain, CNN reported, is one of several European countries to offer tax-funded healthcare. Because of this, the World Health Organization ranked it as the seventh best in the world.
Moreover, the researchers noted that the biggest threats to a person’s health and longevity are things that may be well within their control. That includes obesity, tobacco use and drinking alcohol, along with blood pressure and blood sugar.
“Spain does really well in those,” Dr Christopher Murray, director of the IHME at the University of Washington, told The Guardian. “Although tobacco is an area where they could be better. But current life expectancy is very good.”
Lesotho, a country located in southern Africa, came in last in the rankings with a life expectancy of just 57.3 by the year 2040. Rounding out the rest of the bottom is the Central African Republic with a life expectancy of 58.4, Zimbabwe with 61.3 and Somalia with 63.6.
“Inequalities will continue to be large,” Murray added. “The gap between the ‘better’ and ‘worse’ scenarios will narrow but will still be significant. In a substantial number of countries, too many people will continue earning relatively low incomes, remain poorly educated, and die prematurely. But nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet.”
You can see every country’s life expectancy in the published report.