Life expectancy in Russia is 72.5 years. It’s a lot or a little? Explains demographer Ekaterina Scherbakova

Life expectancy in Russia is 72.5 years. It’s a lot or a little? Explains demographer Ekaterina Scherbakova

On 11 September, the Russian Ministry of health reported that the life expectancy of Russians broke the historical record and reached 72.5 years. “Medusa” asked a senior researcher at the Institute of demography, HSE Catherine Shcherbakov to explain whether it is possible to assume that in Russia people live long, how it is measured, and whether the people of the future to live much longer than the current one.

The life expectancy of 72.5 years is a lot or a little? And if you compare with other countries?

Short. People in Russia are not very long, but not very small — about the same as the average in all other countries. In the 90s, not only Russia, but other countries in Eastern Europe are far behind other European countries on this indicator.

By modern standards expected at birth of 72.5 years — rather, it corresponds to the world average level. It is, however, noted that for 2017, this could only be the most advanced or even the predicted rating, because the year is not over. Estimates of life expectancy at birth in Russia in 2016 Rosstat published recently in July. In Russia it amounted to 71.9 years.

According to the latest forecast estimates of the population Division of the United Nations (“world population Prospects revision 2017”), life expectancy at birth in Russia will be in 2017 71,2 years, and in the whole world — 71,9 years.

More importantly, the average life expectancy of the world population is growing steadily, increasing from 47 years in the middle of the last century to 71 years by 2015, and in Russia the picture is different. In our country the average life expectancy of the population in the middle of the last century, despite many losses and hardships, significantly higher than the global average, in the early 1960-ies was close to level 70, but then the growth stopped for several decades, and in the 1990s and early 2000s years have seen its significant decline. The result has been a noticeable lag from the world level (more than two years), which was reduced only in recent years.

I must say that a significant reduction in life expectancy at birth was observed in 1990-e years, not only in Russia but in some other countries of Eastern Europe, were part of the socialist camp. She is now mostly recovered, but remains relatively low compared to the rest of Europe. The lowest values of life expectancy at birth in Europe are Moldova, Russia and Ukraine (about 70-71 years, and in Europe as a whole for 77.2 years).

Where people live longer than in Russia? And where less?

Short. There are 32 countries where people on average live longer than 80 years. For example, Australia, Spain and Japan. But there are countries where people rarely live to 55 — they are mainly located in Africa.

The UN estimates that in 2017, Russia occupies 125-e a place in a number of countries, ranked in descending order of average life expectancy (list — 201 country with a population of not less than 90 thousand people in 2015, which was conducted computations).

58% of the world population lives in countries with an average life expectancy of 70 years or more, including 9% in 32 countries with an average life expectancy of 80 years or more. Despite the relatively steady growth of life expectancy, differences between countries remain very high.

In some countries it has already exceeded 82 years (in Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, a separate Autonomous regions of China, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Singapore, Switzerland and Japan) and some less than 55 years (in côte d’ivoire, Lesotho, Nigeria, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Chad, Central African Republic).

What affects life expectancy? Medicine? Ecology?

Short. On life expectancy is affected by everything that affects human health and mortality. In countries with low life expectancy can be greatly improve this statistic if you reduce infant mortality. And there, where people live long enough — we need to care about the health of older people.

Everything that affects the living conditions of the population in varying degrees the effect on health and mortality. This climatic, and socio-economic factors, and characteristics of the prevailing stereotypes of individual and group behavior. The significance of individual factors may vary. Large-scale natural or social disasters can lead to a significant increase in mortality, in the normal course of life the decisive role played by the level of socio-economic development and quality of life, including the quality of living conditions and medical care. A considerable role is played by the so-called “vital behavior” of the population, following a healthy lifestyle and avoiding harmful habits.

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The role of factors influencing the life expectancy of the population as a whole, depends on the prevailing historical type of mortality. With low life expectancy significant progress in improving can be achieved through measures aimed at reducing child and infant mortality. Among them we can mention the sanitary-hygienic measures for the prevention of childhood infections, a qualified medical obstetrics, the provision of adequate health facilities, especially in relation to the provision of clean water and removal of wastewater, the fight against poverty and malnutrition.