AUSTRALIAN men have the third-highest life expectancy in the world, while the nation’s women come sixth globally, according to the World Health Organisation.
But Aussie women are expected to live 84.6 years on average, compared with 80.5 for men, with the female lifespans being longer across the world.
WHO statistics show that people everywhere are living longer. The global average for women is now 73, while it has reached 68 for men.
Poorer countries have made the greatest progress, with an average increase in life expectancy by nine years from 1990 to 2012.
WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said the dramatic improvement had come because “fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday.”
In richer countries, the gains are down to healthier lifestyles and better medicine, with fewer people dying of heart disease and stroke before their 60th birthday.
Declining tobacco use is also a key factor in helping people live longer.
The gap between rich and poor remains marked, however.
A boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can expect to live to around 76, 16 years longer than one in a low-income country, while girls in wealthy countries will live 19 years longer than their counterparts in the developing world, reaching 82 compared with just 63.
Men in Iceland live the longest at 81.2, while women in Japan top the female list with a life expectancy of 87 years.
New Zealand men come fourth at 80.2, tying with Israel, Singapore and Italy. New Zealand women come 8th, at 84 years, tying with Portugal.
At the other end of the scale, life expectancy for both men and women is still less than 55 years in nine sub-Saharan African countries — Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Top life expectancy for boys born in 2012:
- Iceland – 81.2
- Switzerland – 80.7
- Australia – 80.5
- Israel – 80.2
- Singapore – 80.2
- New Zealand – 80.2
- Italy – 80.2
- Japan – 80
- Sweden – 80
- Luxembourg – 79.7
Top life expectancy for girls born in 2012:
- Japan – 87
- Spain – 85.1
- Switzerland – 85.1
- Singapore – 85.1
- Italy – 85
- France – 84.9
- Australia – 84.6
- Republic of Korea – 84.6
- Luxembourg – 84.1
- Portugal – 84
- New Zealand – 84