The average life expectancy in the United States is projected to be 78.3 for the year 2020, but don’t start planning your retirement years out quite yet. Many factors may determine your longevity, some of which you may find surprising.
Average Life Expectancy Male Vs. Female
Females tend to outlive males by an average of five to ten years, and have been doing so for quite some time now. There isn’t a single year since 1960 that men have taken lead on that average, or even come close (though the gap does seem to be slowly closing). The estimated life expectancy for a man in 2020 is 75.7 years old, while for women it’s 80.8. Why is that?
One reason may be that men tend to participate in riskier behaviors more often than women, since they can be more aggressive and competitive in nature. Violence and accidents are more common among the male gender than female, as are unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking excessively, and drug use. One study of male mice also suggests that sperm genes are to blame –male mice sacrifice longevity for bigger bodies and greater energy output required for breeding. It’s also proven that women’s hearts keep their pumping power much longer than men’s hearts do.
Average Life Expectancy Based on Race
How does your race factor into longevity? According to the U.S. Census’ 2020 Statistical Report, white people tend to outlive black people. While the average life expectancy for a Caucasian is 78.9 years (76.5 for a male, 80.3 for a female), the average life expectancy for an African American is 73.8 years (70.2 for a man, 77.2 for a woman). Five years is quite a difference. This gap is thought to be because many black people in America have lower socioeconomic status, meaning less access to income, health care, and education – all factors that effect longevity.
However, whites are not the leading race for living the longest in America. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have recently (October 2020) come out with a study showing that Hispanics tend to live 2.5 years longer than whites on average, and 7.7 years longer than blacks. This came as a surprise to researchers because many Hispanics in America have a similar socioeconomic status to blacks, which would point to a similar life expectancy. Their longer life may be contributed to Hispanics’ strong cultural and family ties, as well as their reluctance to assimilate to many unhealthy American traditions.
Average Life Expectancy by Country
Being American does not guarantee longer years. In fact, the United States has dropped from 24th in the world for life expectancy in 1999, to 49th this year (2020). The reason? Critics say health care is the primary cause. Though Americans spend more on health care than any other industrialized country, uninsured citizens are continually on the rise.
Health care isn’t the only culprit pinned for these recent findings. The American lifestyle isn’t exactly the healthiest: smoking, obesity, traffic accidents, and homicides also have been increasing in the United States.
In which countries do people live the longest? According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, a little southeast Asian country called Macau takes the top spot, with citizens living an average of 84.36 years. The top ten countries with the highest average life expectancy for 2020 are as follows:
- Hong Kong
The United States, at 49, is sandwiched between Wallis and Futuna and Albania, interestingly enough. Zambia and Angola come in last – numbers 223 and 224 respectively, with average life expectancies of 38.63 and 38.2.