NZ life expectancy among world's best

Last updated 17:10 16/05/2014

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New Zealand is one of only nine countries where both baby girls and boys have a life expectancy of more than 80 years, according to the World Health Organisation.

Figures out today put the life expectancy at birth for a New Zealand male at 80.2 years in 2012. That earns a ranking of sixth in the world, even though Israel in fourth place is also on 80.2. The very smallest countries are excluded from the rankings because of uncertainty with the estimates.

Topping the list for men is Iceland on 81.2 years, while Australia is in third place on 80.5.

New Zealand women do not make the top 10 list, but the WHO data shows a life expectancy rounded to 84 years. An unrounded 84 earned Portugal 10th place.

Japanese women have the longest life expectancy with 87 years, while Australian women are ranked seventh at 84.6 years.

For the world as a whole, a girl born in 2012 could expect to live an average of 72.7 years, and a boy 68.1 years. Poor countries had shown an increase of nine years of average life expectancy between 1990 and 2012, up to 60.2 years for men and 63.1 years for women.

Key factors in the improvement for poor countries were a reduction in child deaths and fewer adult deaths from infectious diseases, WHO said.

Statistics New Zealand also published life expectancy figures today. It put the life expectancy for a boy born between 2011 and 2013 at 79.7 years, edging higher from 79.4 between 2010 and 2012, and up from 78.2 between 2006 and 2008.

For baby girls, life expectancy was put at 83.2 in the latest period, from 83.0 and 82.2.

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