The Lancet finds that global life expectancy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, projected to increase by 5 years by 2050. 

Key Highlights

  • COVID-19’s Impact and Recovery: According to research published in The Lancet, life expectancy, which had been improving since 1990, saw a slowdown in growth rates in 2020 due to the pandemic. 
  • Fortunately, from 2022 to 2023, global life expectancy numbers returned to surpass pre-pandemic levels. 
  • The study predicts a slower, but still positive, trajectory compared to the past. Life expectancy is expected to increase by an average of 0.16 years annually from 2022 to 2050, compared to 0.27 years annually between 1990 and 2019.
  • Methodology: Researchers analyzed estimates of years lived with disability, disability-adjusted life-years (DALY), and HALE for 204 countries and territories up to 2050.

Historical Context: 

  • The study found that overall global life expectancy increased by 7.8 years from 1990 to 2019.
  • However, from 2019 to 2021, COVID-19 caused a 2.2-year decline, offset slightly by reductions in other diseases, resulting in a net decrease of 1.6 years.
  • Significant slowdowns in life expectancy growth rates in high-income regions, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania from 2022 to 2050.

India’s Life Expectancy:

  • In India, life expectancy for men and women rose from 60 and 62 years, in 1990 to 68 and 72 years respectively before the pandemic. COVID-19 caused a temporary dip.
  • However by 2050, the average lifespan in India is expected to reach 76 years for men and 80 years for women.

Future Outlook: 

  • By mid-century, global life expectancy is predicted to increase from 73.6 years in 2022 to 78.1 years in 2050. 
  • The increase in life expectancy is attributed to public health measures improving survival rates. 
  • It predicts a shift in the burden of disease from communicable to non-communicable diseases.

Disability-adjusted life-years (DALY)

  • It measures years lost due to illness or disability. It combines two factors:
  • Years of Life Lost (YLLs): This considers premature deaths from a disease or health condition.
  • Years Lived with Disability (YLDs): This reflects years lived with reduced quality of life due to illness, disability, or injury.

Health adjusted life-expectancy (HALE)

  • Life expectancy tells us how long someone can expect to live on average. HALE takes this a step further by considering the quality of those years. 
  • It reflects the average number of years a person at a specific age can expect to live in good health, free from illness or disability.
  • Essentially, HALE provides a more comprehensive picture of overall health and well-being.

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