Life expectancies begin to recover

Some good news about life expectancy, at least for some countries. After significant declines in 2020-2021, the life expectancies are beginning to strongly improve in 2022! (The data will be added as life expectancy data for 2022 are just beginning to be published.)

According to the recent “Health at a Glance 2023. OECD INDICATORS” (November 7, 2023) based on Eurostat data:

“Provisional Eurostat data for 2022 point to a strong rebound in life expectancy in many Central and Eastern European countries, but a more mixed picture for other European countries, including reductions of half a year or more in Iceland, Finland and Norway” [as well as a few months decline in Belgium, France and some other countries, where life expectancies were traditionally high].

Here are some of the positive examples of the life expectancy increase:

According to OECD data, in 2022, with the average life expectancy of 82.9 Israel fully recovered to the life expectancy level of 2019 (82.9), after about 3 months decline in life expectancy during 2020-2021 (82.7 in 2020, 82.6 in 2021). As before COVID, Israel is in the top 10 countries in life expectancy.

In 2022, Baltic countries showed a large increase in life expectancy (over a year up to 2 years):

In 2022, in Lithuania, the life expectancy was 76, approaching the pre-Covid 2019 value of 76.5, rising almost 2 years compared to the lowest point in 2021, after almost 2.5 years decline in life expectancy in 2020-2021 (75.1 in 2020, 74.2 in 2021).

In Latvia, the life expectancy in 2022 was 74.8, getting closer to the 2019 value of 75.7 (still almost one year lower than in 2019), rising over 1.5 years compared to the lowest point in 2021, after about 2.5 years of decline in 2020-2021 (75.1 in 2020, 73.1 in 2021).

Estonia, with LE of 78.2 in 2022, got closer to the 2019 LE level of 79, with about one year improvement compared to the lowest point in 2021, after an almost 2 years decline in LE in 2020-2021 (78.9 in 2020, 77.2 in 2021).

In Bulgaria, the country that experienced one of the world’s greatest declines in life expectancy of almost 4 years in 2020-2021, from 75.1 in 2019 to 73.6 in 2020 and to 71.4 in 2021, the life expectancy is beginning to improve, reaching 74.3 in 2022 (an almost 3 years improvement in life expectancy during one year).

In Sweden (with all the global discussions about “the correct anti-covid measures”) the life expectancy remained almost exactly the same (83.2 in 2019, 82.4 in 2020, 83.1 in 2021, 83.1 in 2022).

In China, the life expectancy slowly, but gradually improved by 0.5 years total, since 2019 through 2022 (77.7 in 2019; 78 in 2020, 78.1 in 2021, 78.2 in 2022).

Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia also showed a gradual net improvement in life expectancy from 2019 through 2022: 0.6 years for Chile, 0.4 years for Costa Rica, and 0.3 years for Colombia.

Luxembourg, despite the initial decline in life expectancy in 2020, had a net increase of 0.3 years from 2019 through 2022, reaching 83 years (one of the highest in Europe and in the world).

In the US, in 2022, the life expectancy increased by 1.1 years to 77.5, compared to 76.4 in 2021. Though, after the life expectancy decline of 2.4 years in 2020-2021, the life expectancy in 2022 is still 1.3 years short of the pre-COVID values of 2019, when it was 78.8, and now stands at about the level of 2003.

And many more positive and encouraging examples of life expectancy improvement can be found in many countries, in the data below. Hopefully the life expectancy and healthy life expectancy will continue to increase throughout the world, thanks to improving public health, medical research, development, education and application.

Indeed, it is encouraging to see the significant improvement in life expectancy in 2022, in many countries, following a dramatic global decline of almost 2 years of life expectancy in 2020-2021. Technically, countries that had more than one year increase in life expectancy during one year, experienced “longevity escape velocity” – if just for that one year, showing that rapid improvements are possible.

Still the trends of improvement are only emerging, and only in a part of the countries. Still the pre-covid levels are not yet fully reached in the vast majority of countries. Still the global decline compared to 2019 needs to be recognized, and strong efforts for the promotion and implementation of healthy longevity need to be made for the life expectancy and healthy life expectancy to fully return to the pre-crisis levels of 2019, and then hopefully resume the progress.