Children born in New Zealand in 2012 are likely to live into
their 80s - almost at the top of the 194 countries covered in
a recent World Health Organisation report.
The report ranks New Zealand males as having the
fourth-highest life expectancy and females seventh.
The figures were for a baby born in 2012, and showed an
increased life expectancy around the world, which does not
surprise a local demographer.
In poor countries it was because fewer children were dying
before their fifth birthday and in wealthier countries it was
because fewer people were dying of heart disease and strokes
before their 60th birthday, the WHO said.
New Zealand men were expected to live to, on average, 80.2
years of age - the same as Singaporean, Israeli and Italian
men. Women should live to 84, the same as Portuguese women.
New Zealand demographer Arvind Zodgekar said in the past
decade the life expectancy of people worldwide had jumped by
about four years.
"We are keeping in line with most of the Western countries,"
To maintain our healthy life expectancy figures, healthcare
needed to be accessible to the country's poorest residents,
"Twenty years ago a visit to the doctor wasn't as expensive
as it is now."
As people lived longer, the health system would need to deal
with how to treat the body deteriorating, Mr Zodgekar said.
The WHO report said a boy born in 2012 in a high-income
country could expect to live to about 76, which was 16 years
more than a boy born in a low-income country. Girls in
high-income countries were likely to live to the age of 82,
compared with 63 in poor countries.
Based on global averages, a girl born in 2012 could expect to
live to about 73 and a boy to 68, the report said. "This is
six years longer than the average global life expectancy for
a child born in 1990."
Nine sub-Saharan African countries - Angola, Central African
Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - were
bottom of the report, with life expectancy younger than 55.
A separate report, released by the US Central Intelligence
Agency in 2012, said women born in New Zealand expected to
live for 82.81 years, and men to 78.7.
- Rebecca Quillam