The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has 35 member countries with the goal of stimulating economic growth. It recently published findings relating to health standards in different countries, reporting an average increase in life expectancy of 10 years since 1970.
The results largely seem to indicate that, in the past 47 years, increased education, better quality of life and healthier lifestyles have managed to lengthen the average life by ten years. This increase is in line with predictions that we would see life expectancy reach 90 years within the coming decades, though we’re not there yet.
At present, Japan has the highest life expectancy at birth, with an average of 83.9 years. Spain and Sweden were next with an average of 83 years. The Irish Times reported that Ireland saw a significant increase, despite disappointing statistics regarding healthcare and the number of doctors per capita. Irish women now have an average lifespan of 83.4 years and Irish men living for an average 79.6 years.
The report contained a lot of other information on OECD member countries, including dental health, quality of life at various ages, medical resources available, income levels and alcohol intake. These factors were all used to determine the quality of life, and their effects on lifespan are also apparent. While the overall increase in life expectancy is good news, there is also a lot of room for improvement. These figures, if anything, highlight the areas where different countries may be lacking and what they need to improve to help their citizens. Guided by data like this and the clear evidence of what changes prolong and improve life, all countries should be striving to make life longer, healthier and happier for as many people as possible.
Naturally, not all of this information is of the same value in every single country. The OECD’s member countries are largely highly developed nations in Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan. The increases we see in these places do not necessarily reflect the true global situation. The good news is that we have evidence of the kind of development necessary to improve human life. The hard part will be ensuring that all countries can benefit from this knowledge.