For the first time ever, China has overtaken America in healthy life expectancy at birth, according to a new report. “Healthy life expectancy” is defined by years lived in good health or without significant illness.
The report, from the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals Chinese newborns could experience 68.7-years of healthy life ahead of them, compared to just 68.5-years for American babies. While the margin between healthy life for both countries is minuscule, the crossover represents the understanding that America is in decline.
Though Americans born in 2018 can still expect a longer life — 78.5-years to be exact, compared to China’s 76.4-years; however, the last ten years of an American’s life is usually plagued with significant health-related problems.
“The lost years of good health that are a factor in calculating healthy life expectancy at birth are lower for China, Japan, Korea and some other high-income Asian countries than for high income ‘Western’ countries,” said WHO spokeswoman Alison Clements-Hunt.
The data also shows that America is one of the only five countries, along with Afghanistan, Georgia, Grenadines, Saint Vincent, and Somalia, where healthy life expectancy at birth is reversing.
Since 2005, the outlook for Singaporean babies has never been better, who can live free of significant health-related issues until 76.2-years, followed by Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.
In overall global life expectancy rankings, America places 40th among all other countries, while China ranks 37th.
China has seen a dramatic improvement in overall life expectancy in recent years. Meanwhile, overall life expectancy in the United States peaked in 2014 at 79-years, which Reuters calculates that China could overtake the United States around 2027.
“Chinese life expectancy has increased substantially and is now higher than for some high-income countries,” said Clements-Hunt.
The WHO’s numbers reflect that something is not quite right in America. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed in December that the average American life expectancy at birth declined in 2016 for the second consecutive year – the first multiyear decline since 1963, when a flu epidemic led to a rash of deaths as hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans succumbed to the virus.
Clements-Hunt believes drug overdoses and worsening wealth inequality could be some of the trends responsible for declining American life expectancy.
“The increasing rates of drug overdose deaths, mainly from opioids, suicides, and some other major causes among younger middle-aged Americans, particularly in less affluent area,” she said.
While it is no mystery that American Exceptionalism is declining, China, on the other hand, is gradually accelerating with a healthier workforce that will be the needed energy in its economy to dethrone the American Empire in the next decade. Significant changes are coming to the global economy and while today’s data from the WHO does not seem substantial, remember, a critical component of any economy besides robots is the human factor.