In Italy, according to Istat data, in 2015 life expectancy at birth was 80.1 years for men and 84.7 for women, high in the world but slightly down on the previous year, perhaps due a reduction in prevention activities
The world would be going, as the sharpest commentators say, "to shit". There are bloody wars and terrorism everywhere, the desperate people of the Earth are everywhere on the move and pressing on the borders of those who are better off, the economy is destroying the work and savings of decades and the ineptitude of many governments in addressing these problems is facing the everyone's eyes. Yet it's okay, humanity is moving forward, things are getting better, we've never been so good. The fact, perhaps counter-intuitive, emerges from the spectacular growth in life expectancy worldwide.
The average survival of populations is a datum that summarizes many other factors. It is an effective representation of several important elements such as the interaction between rising incomes and material and food abundance, advances in public health and medicine, the general decline in the level of everyday violence and many other things. To live longer, you have to be better alive, in every respect — and between 1960 and 2015, the average lifespan worldwide increased from 42 years to 68 years.
The phenomenon is more marked in the poorest parts of the globe. In South Asia—Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, with a total population of about 1.8 billion—life expectancy rose from 1960 to 2015 by an astonishing 26.5 years, or 63 percent. The world average, on the other hand, grew "only" by 16.12 years, the 37%. The improvement in sub-Saharan Africa was slowed down in the 1990s by the terrible HIV/AIDS epidemic. Things are much better now, mainly due to the availability of effective antiretroviral drugs. In 1960, the average African had a life expectancy of 40.2 years. In 2015 it rose to 59 years, plus 47%.
Even in the United States, where lately there has been much talk of the increase in mortality among middle-aged white males, the trend in the period is overall very positive, with life expectancy growing by 13.45%, beating even the results from notoriously “healthy” countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway: plus 12.71%, 11.32% and 11.03% respectively.
In Italy, according to Istat data, in 2015 life expectancy at birth was 80.1 years for men and 84.7 for women, high in the world but slightly down on the previous year, perhaps due a reduction in prevention activities. Meanwhile, Italian centenarians have more than tripled in recent times, going from 5,650 in 2002 to over 19,000 in 2015.
However, such data recalls Trilussa's chicken: "Let me explain, from there you calculate that if they do/ according to the statistics of now/ it turns out that you get one chicken a year/ and, if it doesn't enter your expenses,/ t' statistics enters it all the same/ because there is a cave that magnifies two…” That is—at least in the context—they are values that do not apply to individuals, the case that humanly concerns us the most.
There is one consolation: we are living many years older than before despite the popular—and recent—perception of the terrible threat posed by gluten, lactose, cholesterol, palm oil, artificial colors and preservatives, white sugar and the Red meat. In 1880 life expectancy in Italy was 35.4 years, which became 42.8 in 1900, 54.9 in 1930 and 65.5 in 1959 . He is now over eighty.
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