Life Expectancy

Life expectancy serves as a significant indicator of a nation's overall health and wellbeing. Historically, it was relatively short for humans, but as societies progressed, medical advances, improved nutrition, better sanitation, and enhanced public health policies transformed the human lifespan. Today, it is essential to consider the relationship between life expectancy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in 2015. The SDGs are a set of 17 interconnected goals, which, when viewed collectively, depict a roadmap to a better future by 2030. They address global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, peace, and justice. Among these, SDG 3, which specifically aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” holds direct pertinence to life expectancy. One of its targets is to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5, significantly reducing maternal mortality and combating various diseases. Each of these targets, when achieved, can significantly raise life expectancy in affected regions.

Furthermore, the interconnectivity of SDGs means that even goals not directly related to health have an indirect impact on life expectancy. For instance, SDG 2, which emphasizes zero hunger, can lead to improved nutrition. Better nourished populations tend to have fewer health issues and longer life spans. Similarly, SDG 6, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, directly diminishes the spread of many diseases, thereby boosting life expectancy. Additionally, SDG 11 aims for sustainable cities and communities, and as urban areas often face health challenges like air pollution, improving urban life can significantly enhance its residents' lifespan.

However, it's not just about lengthening life but improving its quality. The underlying philosophy of the SDGs is to create a world where everyone can live a fulfilling life, free from preventable diseases, hunger, and inequality. Achieving this requires a holistic approach, addressing not just direct health challenges but also the root socio-economic and environmental issues. For instance, the ripple effects of climate action (SDG 13) or quality education (SDG 4) are felt in every aspect of life, from individual health to community wellbeing, which in turn, plays a role in determining life expectancy. The beauty of the SDGs is that they recognize these intricate connections.

This Article supports SDG 3 by highlighting the importance of not just measuring life expectancy but also disability-free life expectancy as an indicator of population health, and showing that in Hong Kong, a word leader in life expectancy, there has been a trend of increasing disability burden, particularly in women. The authors discuss the public health implications of their findings.
This Article supports SDG 3 by analysing follow-up data from over 200 000 people with HIV from 20 cohorts in North America and Europe who had started ART up to 20 years previously, and showing that estimated life expectancy for people with HIV on long-term ART with high CD4 cell counts is only a few years lower than that in the general population, irrespective of when ART was started.
This Article supports SDG 3 and 7 by highlighting that that household use of solid fuels for cooking or heating was associated with lower life expectancy in the Chinese population.
With the aging global population, the relationship between older people and their residential environments is increasingly important. This relationship is based on the match between the individual characteristics of a person, their needs and expectations, and the characteristics of their environment. By creating access to various health improvement factors and exposure to various risk factors, the conditions under which an individual ages can be modified. This helps to accelerate or decelerate the process of incapacitation that individuals undergo as they age. This can also reduce or reinforce socio-spatial inequalities, which underlie the preponderant role of territory and spatial policies in the prevention and promotion of healthy aging. This chapters supports the process for developing the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020 – 2030) aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG3).
This study investigates how the sources of carbon emissions affect life expectancy. The study sample includes 68 developing and emerging economies for the period 1990-2017. Disaggregated analysis is performed on: (1) emissions sources; (2) income groups. A negative nexus between life expectancy and CO2 emissions exists for emerging ones. However, CO2 emissions seem to improve the life expectancy for developing countries.

Boissonneault, M. and Rios, P., 2021. Changes in healthy and unhealthy working-life expectancy over the period 2002–17: a population-based study in people aged 51–65 years in 14 OECD countries. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, 2(10), pp.e629-e638.

This study supports SDGs 3 and 8 by estimating the healthy and unhealthy working-life expectancy in 14 countries between 2002 and 2017. The study used cross-sectional data from surveys on ageing. Across all countries, increases in the number of years working were accompanied by an increased number of unhealthy working years, most frequently due to hypertension or arthritis.

The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 5, June 2021

Temperature affects many life processes, but its effect might be expected to differ among eukaryotic organisms inhabiting similar environments. We reviewed literature on temperature thresholds of humans, livestock, poultry, agricultural crops, and sparse examples of fisheries. We found that preferable and harmful temperatures are similar for humans, cattle, pigs, poultry, fish, and agricultural crops. Preferable temperatures range from 17°C to 24°C. Stress temperature thresholds are lower when humidity is higher.

To mark US Independence Day 2017, LexisNexis Legal & Professional has released new data for 98 countries indicating that the stronger a country’s rule of law, the greater it performs against measures of life expectancy, civil liberty, and happiness. This helps to demonstrate how SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions underpins all of the SDGs.

Background Healthy life expectancy (HALE) and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) provide summary measures of health across geographies and time that can inform assessments of epidemiological patterns and health system performance, help to prioritise investments in research and development, and monitor progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aimed to provide updated HALE and DALYs for geographies worldwide and evaluate how disease burden changes with development.