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Data InsightsLife expectancy is lower in the United States than in other high-income countries
July 05, 2024Lars Yencken

Life expectancy is lower in the United States than in other high-income countries

A line graph titled “Life expectancy in the United States is lower than peer nations” shows life expectancy from 1990 to 2021. The y-axis ranges from 60 to 85 years. The graph compares the United States (orange line) with Australia (green), Canada (blue), the United Kingdom (purple), and high-income countries (teal). The U.S. consistently has lower life expectancy, with a widening gap over time. Data sources: UN WPP (2022), HMD (2023), Zijdeman et al. (2015), Riley (2005). Credit: Our World in Data.

The world has seen big gains in life expectancy in recent decades, yet the United States increasingly lags behind peer countries.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the period life expectancy in the US was two years lower than the average for high-income countries, according to data from the UN World Population Prospects.

Healthcare spending as a share of GDP is much higher in the United States than in peer nations. This raises questions about equality in access to care, affordability, and the overall efficiency of the US healthcare system.

Other lifestyle and societal factors are also likely to play a role: the US, for example, has seen a surge in drug-related deaths in recent years as a result of the opioid crisis.

Read more on healthcare spending