Posted on Aug 30, 2019, 4 p.m.
Research from The Australian National University suggests that Australian men are now living longer than any other group of men in the world, living on average 74.1 years, which is good news for the Australian women who ranked second, slightly behind Swiss women.
This research using data from 15 countries across Asia, North America, and Europe with high life expectancies, and introduces a new way of measuring life expectancy that accounts for the historical mortality conditions that today’s older populations have endured and lived through.
"Popular belief has it that Japan and the Nordic countries are doing really well in terms of health, wellbeing, and longevity. But Australia is right there. The results have a lot to do with long term stability and the fact Australia's had a high standard of living for a really, really long time. Simple things like having enough to eat, and not seeing a lot of major conflicts play a part,” says co-led Dr Collin Payne.
This study grouped people by year of birth, separating premature deaths from late deaths to come up with the age at which someone may be considered as an above average survivor; the team suggests this method allows for a more clear view of whether someone is reaching their cohort’s life expectancy.
"Most measures of life expectancy are just based on mortality rates at a given time. It's basically saying if you took a hypothetical group of people and put them through the mortality rates that a country experienced in 2018, for example, they would live to an average age of 80. But that doesn't tell you anything about the life courses of people, as they've lived through to old age.” says Payne.
According to Payne, "What matters is we're comparing a group of people who were born in the same year, and so have experienced similar conditions throughout their life. For example, any Australian man who's above age 74 we know with 100 per cent certainty has outlived half of his cohort -- he's an above average survivor compared to his peers born in the same year. And those figures are higher here than anywhere else that we've measured life expectancy. On the other hand, any man who's died before age 74 is not living up to their cohort's life expectancy."
A number of factors may contribute to Australia moving to the top in these new rankings, such as, "Mortality was really high in Japan in the 30s, 40s and 50s. In Australia, mortality was really low during that time," Dr Payne explains. “French males, for example, drop out because a lot of them died during WW2, some from direct conflict, others from childhood conditions."
As published in the journal Population studies Dr. Payne is working at collecting enough data to further investigate how rankings have changed over the last 30-40 years.
Based on the new Lagged Cohort Life Expectancy method the top 5 for both sexes are:
For men Australia ranks first at 74.1 years, Sweden is second at 74.0 years, Switzerland third at 73.7 years, Norway fourth at 73.1 years, and The Netherlands are fifth at 72.6 years.
For women Switzerland ranks first at 79.0 years, Australia is second at 78.8 years, Norway third at 78.6 years, Sweden fourth at 78.4 years, and The Netherlands are fifth at 78.2 years.
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