Getting Older All the Time: 34 Nations

Older women in Eastbourne, U.K.

Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Older women in Eastbourne, U.K.

Will you still love us when we’re 80?

There already are a lot more Americans and Europeans older than that, and it’s getting better all the time — by the life-expectancy measure.

The average life expectancy has exceeded 80 in the 34 nations that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

That includes the United States, which, like Chile and a number of Central and Eastern European nations, ranks in the second tier of OECD members where life expectancy at birth averages between 75 and 80. The top-tier, averaging over 80 in life expectancy: Switzerland, Japan and Italy.

The lowest averages: Mexico,  and Turkey, both 75.

The 2014 factbook of the OECD shows a gain of 10 years in the average age of the organization’s member nations from 1970 to 2011.

The U.S. has been a member since signing the convention early on, soon after the OECD’s inception in 1960. Others, such as Australia, Israel and the Czech Republic joined later.

There’s no apparent guarantee, however, that membership increases life expectancy. While life expectancy has increased greatly in Turkey, another of the early members, the gains have slowed in Mexico ”markedly” since 2000.

Mexico, which joined in 1994, suffers not only from poor nutrition and diabetes, the organization reports, but also traffic accidents and homicides.

Outside the organization’s ranks, the picture runs bleaker (see the full list of life expectancy, by nation here). No African nations are members. In Mali, for instance, life expectancy averages under 55. The World Bank says that while life expectancy exceeds 80 in Europe and among OECD members in general, it averages 56 in sub-Saharan Africa and 67 in South Asia.

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