– By 2030 life expectancy for South Korean women could top nine decades, an average lifespan long thought to be out of reach, researchers said Wednesday, February 22, according to AFP.
South Korea is not only the first country in the world where women may live past 90 on average, it is also the one on track to log the biggest jump in longevity, they reported in The Lancet medical journal.
Other developed countries are not far behind: the longevity of French and Japanese women are more likely than not to stretch past 88 years.
“As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years,” said lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London.
Nations boasting the greatest longevity among men by 2030 — 84 years in each case — will likely be South Korea, Australia and Switzerland, according to the study.
Among 35 well-off countries examined, life expectancy was predicted to increase across the board over the next 15 years.
While a marker of progress, ageing populations also pose huge challenges to health care systems and social services, and may require pushing back the age at which people stop working, the study warned.
“It is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place,” Ezzati said.
“The social implications of this change will also likely require changes to pensions and retirement.”
The South Korean success story is built on broad gains in economic status, along with improved child nutrition and broad access to health care and modern medical technology, the study noted.
The East Asian nation of 50 million, along with its neighbour Japan, has also maintained significantly lower rates of obesity, and of smoking among women.