Life expectancy, income and economic welfare
Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly.
Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the African region to 76.8 years in Europe.
Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).
Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s.
Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in Africa, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and improved treatment of HIV.
According to statistical studies, there is a relation between income and life expectancy.
The so-called Preston curve, for example, indicates that individuals born in wealthier countries, on average, can expect to live longer than those born in poor countries. It is not the aggregate growth in income, however, that matters most, but the reduction in poverty.
The most obvious explanation behind the connection between life expectancy and income is the effect of food supply on mortality. Historically, there have been statistically convincing parallels between prices of food and mortality. Higher income also implies better access to housing, education, health services and other items which tend to lead to improved health, lower rates of mortality and higher life expectancy. It is not surprising, therefore, that aggregate income has been a pretty good predictor of life expectancy historically. For more in-depth insight on this interesting issue about the correlation between life-expectancy, income and economic well-being see here.