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South Africa has the lowest life expectancy in the world

South Africa has the lowest life expectancy in the world

A new report commissioned by the US government has found South Africa has the lowest life expectancy in the world.

The report, titled “An Aging World: 2015“, found the world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.

Today, 8.5% of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over – and this is projected to jump to nearly 17% of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion).

The report was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the US National Institutes of Health, and produced by the US Census Bureau.

While much of the world is expected to see a boom in older populations, the growth will be much slower in Africa – particularly South Africa, where the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has given the country the lowest life expectancy out of all countries covered.

The research found that South Africa’s life expectancy at birth was only 49.7 years of age in 2015. While South African men are expected to live a little longer (50.7 years), women fare worse, at 48.7 years.

This number is significantly lower than figures reported by Stats SA, which puts the average life expectancy at birth at 61 years in 2015, while the World Health Organisation puts it at 60 years.

The list of 194 countries by the WHO shows Sierra Leone to have the worst average life expectancy rate in the world, at 46, with Lesotho at an average age of 50, while the average life expectancy of a person from the Central African Republic is 51. In Angola, Chad, and DRC, it’s 52.

According to the report, however, Sierra Leone has a life expectancy of 58.7 years – while the average global life expectancy is 68.6 years, expected to reach 76.2 years by 2050.

While the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is seen as the key factor in the low life expectancy, the US Census Bureau did note a turning in the tide.

“Decreases in mortality due to HIV/AIDS has changed the prospects for South Africa and removed it from the list (of nations in population decline).”

As such, looking forward to 2050, South Africa’s life expectancy is expected to climb to 63.2 years of age at birth – still lower than the global average, but higher than many other African nations.

Over this period, the country is expected to maintain a total fertility rate of 2.0 children, while the population of people over the age of 65 is expected to jump from 3.1 million in 2015, to 5.6 million in 2050.

Population aging affects many aspects of public life, from acute and long-term health care needs, to pensions, work and retirement, transportation, and housing.

Among the older population worldwide, noncommunicable diseases are the main health concern – particularly in low-income countries (many in Africa), where the older population faces a considerable burden from both noncommunicable and communicable diseases.

More on the elderly

Most South Africans are nowhere near ready for retirement

R20 billion in unclaimed retirement funds in SA

South Africa among the worst countries to retire in

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • Blackie

    this study is skewed. mybe was conducted by a student

  • Literally Mario

    Oh geez 50.7 years!? I missed my own mid life crisis! Aaaaggghht!

  • Rupert Belmont

    Proudly brought to you by ANC.

    • 4M


      • Rupert Belmont

        Who is “mad”? Me, you or ANC?

        • 4M


  • Lone Stranger

    How can this even be possible? Places like Syria must surly be worse.

    • wo0two0t1

      Aids, TB and Pneumonia just some of the reasons.

    • Blake

      Unless you are talking about a situation such as Rwanda in 1994 there are few places on earth where conflict zones have resulted in more deaths than South Africa’s daily murder rate. Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria have had quite intense wars but they still have fewer deaths if you take them on an annual basis compared to South Africa. During the Bosnian conflict nearly 100 000 people lost their lives. It was big news. But that was over a period longer than three years. During that same period 150 000 people lost their lives in South Africa due to crime related incidents. Any where else in the civilized world that would be considered a war zone.
      We still have far more murders here than they have war casualties. It’s just that those conflicts are very well publicized. How would you begin to publicize each and every murder in our country as they occur randomly.
      When a bomb goes off in Iraq it kills a lot of people in an instant and this is news. The difference is we have killings in townships, hijackings, farm murders, home invasions etc. No news organization is interested in a murder here and a murder there.
      South Africa makes most backward and conflict zone countries look like really comfortable places to live. We are the proverbial toad in a pot of water on the boil. We have got so used to living in a country that any other civilized human being would consider insane to live in.

  • weepee1

    Yeah! another 1st!

  • bengine

    … I guess SA presidents get a pass – pity as the current one is long past his sell by date …

  • EternityZA

    This does not seem accurate to me. What about the death rate in conflict zones? Surely the life expectency is lower in these areas?

  • observer111

    he he he … :/

  • romicom

    The doubters of stats are just one of the reasons the country cannot improve; always in denial and not trying to look critically and fix problems. This morning, i was listening to a debate on SA-fm after the UNICEF report that SA is the worst place in the world to raise a child. There were many doubters of the stats and conspiracy theories abounding as usual; this way, we will never face reality and redress the ills in our society.

    • Mamparra

      Did they blame it all on Jan van Riebeeck? Seems the usual catchall excuse.

      • romicom

        @Mamparra:disqus Stats are always contested in SA, always thinking the world has got an agenda against the country. There is an inability to accepts challenges and failures without pointing fingers.That is regrettable as you can only fix something you have quantified, understood and accepted.

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    Kak kop. Lees die kopskrywer nie die berig nie??

  • the-TRUTH

    Shame on the ANC. They are contributing to this reality in South Africa, under their watch…

  • Sanele Sane Sato

    I suppose we may feel these stats must be wrong based on our own perspectives of the country we live in being middle to upper class, forgetting that the majority of our country lives in poverty. The stats of the country will be largely based on the poverty stricken community. This is my quick thought on this matter. If you beg to differ, state your case, don’t be discourteous.

    • Mamparra

      Not sure where you are, SSS, but in most of the big centres it’s very difficult not to see the poverty. I’m in Cape Town so see Khayelitsha (600 000 people and growing); in Jo’burg, Alexandria and Diepsloot; Durban, I suppose Avoca and so on. I think it’s one of the things that makes me the crossest – after a good start in 1994 with the RDP and so on, things have deteriorated very badly, especially in the Zuma years. It wasn’t meant to be like this and frankly, the ANC should hold its head in shame – especially Zuma, but it’s not just him – for forgetting their principles. And then having the barefaced cheek to blame it on us ‘whiteys’ as if we were the ones that jumped on the gravy train and then put it into reverse gear with their brazen thieving. Cry the Beloved Country, for sure.

  • Silver King

    Well have you seen some of the hospitals? The local spaza shop is cleaner and I will not buy anything from there.

  • Helldriver Phoenix

    Damn, I’m almost dead then :'(

  • Blejah

    Doubt it.Lesotho is less

  • Leko

    Kak research

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