We’re destined to live longer, less comfortable lives than scientists ever imagined

The future looks…Long
The future looks…Long
Image: EPA/Yannis Kolesidis
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Women born in South Korea in 2030 are projected to be the first people to break the 90-year barrier in life expectancy. Women born in other developed countries in that decade won’t be too far behind, with many projected to live through their 80s, according to a recent study. 

An international team of scientists developed forecasting models to project life expectancy for those born in 2010 and 2030 in 35 industrialized countries. The findings, detailed in the journal The Lancet (pdf), predicts that by 2030, women’s life expectancy in South Korea will exceed 90 years—”a level that was considered virtually unattainable at the turn of the 21st century,” the study notes.

Women in South Korea ranked on top, while women in France and Japan ranked in second and third place respectively, each with a life expectancy of just above 88. At the bottom of the table was Serbia and Macedonia, both with life expectancies of around 78. Women’s life expectancy in the UK was projected to be 85 years in 2030 and 83 for women in the US.

Men don’t fare as well as women. While the projections suggest men born in the 2030s in some countries will make it to their early 80s, in no country will life expectancy for men crack even 85, let alone 90. South Korea again topped the men’s list, with those born in 2030 predicted to have a life expectancy of 84. Bulgaria and Serbia were at the bottom of the list, with a life expectancy of 74 and 73, respectively.

Researchers warn that the world’s aging population will present a significant challenge for health services. Governments across the world will have to respond to a population with a chronic conditions, as well as a loss of sensory and motor abilities. The paper calls for accessible and innovative healthcare and changes to adapt environment and transportation services.