Animated Chart: Global Life Expectancy (1950-2021)
At a glance, life expectancy has been increasing worldwide over the last 70 years. But when you break it down by region and by sex, a clear yet variable gap in life expectancy emerges.
Using data from Our World in Data, these graphics by Pablo Alvarez provide both a breakdown of average life expectancies worldwide, as well as a more granular view that looks at the life expectancy of men and women across different continents.
Life Expectancy, by Continent and Sex
In the 1800s, the average life expectancy at birth was just 40 years.
Over the last 200 years, average life expectancies have nearly doubled, largely thanks to improvements in healthcare, sanitation, and global medical practices.
However, increases in life spans have not been consistent across the sexes—around the world, women now live 5.4 years longer than men do on average. And in certain parts of the world, this gap is even wider.
For instance, in South America, the average life expectancy for women is seven years longer than it is for men.
Here is the continental breakdown, with data by continent for both male and females:
|Life Expectancy by Region (2021)||Life expectancy at birth, females (years)||Life expectancy at birth, males (years)|
What’s causing this discrepancy in life expectancy between men and women?