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Times Of India
14 Dec 2012
New Delhi, India.
Men now live till 63.2 yrs, women reach 67.5...

An average Indian man’s life expectancy (LE) at birth has increased by nearly 15 years in the last 40 years, while an average Indian woman is living over 18 years longer than what she did four decades ago.

The world population’s lifespan has gained more than a decade since 1970 – from 56.4 years in 1970 to 67.5 years in 2010 for an average male and from 61.2 years to 73.3 years for a woman. An average Indian man and woman’s LE is 63.2 years and 67.5 years, respectively.

An average Chinese male, at 72.9 years, is living almost 10 years longer and a Chinese woman is living 11.5 years longer than their Indian counterparts. An average American is living nearly 13 years longer than an Indian.

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The world’s largest study on LE in 187 countries – for each decade from 1970 to 2010 – published by the British medical journal Lancet shows that globally, male LE increased by 11.1 years and female LE by 12.1 years. The greater increase in female LE widened the gap between the sexes from 4.8 years to 5.7 years.

Speaking to TOI from London, study author, professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College, London and associate professor at the IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) at the University of Washington, said, "One of the main reasons behind India’s impressive gain in LE has been the reduction in numbers of child mortality and low mortality among young adults. The US and several other countries have taken decades to improve LE. If India manages to cut down its tobacco consumption, lower high blood pressure rates in its population and increase physical activity thereby cutting down obesity rates, increase in LE of an average Indian will increase faster."

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Global LE increased about 3–4 years per decade for both sexes in every decade apart from the 1990s, when smaller improvements were recorded, largely because of the effect of HIV/AIDS in some regions and deaths related to alcohol in eastern Europe and central Asia coupled with a slowdown in survival gains in childhood.

Among neighbours, the LE of a Pakistani man increased by 11.5 years to 63.9 years and that of a woman by almost 16.7 years to 67.8 years. LE in Bangladesh jumped by leaps and bounds – an average male is living till 67.2 years, a rise by almost 25 years and in women, by 23.5 years to 71 years.

In 2010, Japanese women had the highest LE at birth in the world at 85.9 years, while Iceland had the highest LE for men at 80 years. Haiti had the lowest life expectancy at birth for both men and women – 32.5 and 43.6, respectively – largely due to the disastrous earthquake in January, 2010.

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