The life expectancy of women in South Korea will most likely break the 90-year barrier by 2030, according to a study published in the Lancet. The life expectancy of women in France, Spain, and Japan is also expected to increase, while women and men in the United States, Japan, Sweden, and other countries have some of the lowest projected life expectancy gains. 

Vasilis Kontis, PhD, from Imperial College in London, UK, and colleagues sought to predict age-specific mortality and life expectancy to 2030 in 35 industrialized countries with high-quality vital statistics data. The investigators used age-specific death rates to calculate life expectancy at birth and at age 65 years, and the probability of dying before 70 years of age.

The results showed that life expectancy is expected to increase in all 35 countries with a probability of 65% for women and 85% for men. In addition, there is a 90% probability that life expectancy at birth among South Korean women will be higher than 86.7 years in 2030, and a 57% probability that it will be higher than 90 years of age.

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According to the researchers, there is a greater than 95% probability that life expectancy at birth among men in South Korea, Australia, and Switzerland will surpass 80 years in 2030 and a greater than 27% probability that it will surpass 85 years.

The projections revealed that the United States, Japan, Sweden, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia have some of the lowest projected life expectancy gains for both men and women. The female life expectancy advantage over men is also likely to shrink by 2030 in all countries except Mexico, Chile, France, and Greece.

The investigators note that most of the projected gains in life expectancy in women will be because of enhanced longevity above 65 years of age.

“There is a need for health services that provide long-term care for the increasing number of older people who are affected by multi-morbidity and limited mobility,” the study authors wrote. “The healthcare needs go beyond simply increasing the number of facilities and personnel, itself a challenge in the current era of austerity, and should involve considerations about how and where care is delivered including more integrated care in the community setting or even at home.

“Although rising life expectancy necessitates policies that can support healthy ageing, reframing of education-work-retirement practices, and investment in health and social care, our projections show the continued success of extending longevity,” the authors concluded.


  1. Kontis V, Bennett JE, Mathers CD, Li G, Foreman K, Ezzati M. Future life expectancy in 35 industrialized countries: projections with a Bayesian model ensemble. Lancet. 2017. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)32381-9