Korean life expectancy now over 80
By Moon So-young
For the first time, the average life expectancy for Korean babies exceeds 80 years, the nation’s statistics agency said yesterday. It credited the development of medical technology and an increase in public interest in health care.
Statistics Korea said Korean babies born in 2008 are expected to live an average of 80.1 years, compared to 79.6 years for babies born in 2007. The average life expectancy jumped by more than five years over the past decade. It stood at 74.8 years in 1998.
“Buoying the life expectancy, the death rate of Koreans in their 60s and 70s have declined as medical services are developing and as more people are taking care of their health through exercise and other means,” said Jeon Baek-geun, head of the statistics agency’s population section.
According to the agency, male babies born in 2008 are expected to live an average of 76.5 years, up 0.4 years from 2007. Female babies are expected to live to 83.3 years, up 0.6 years.
The gap between in average life expectancies of male and female babies peaked at 8.4 years in 1985 and has since been on a downward trend. It reached 6.5 years in 2007. But it rebounded to 6.8 years in 2008.
“Last year, suicides among men in their 20s and 30s increased, so it affected the life expectancy for male babies,” Jeon explained.
The agency said that cancer would likely be the biggest cause of death for babies born last year, anticipating that 28.5 percent of males and 16.1 percent of females will ultimately die of the disease. Without cancer, life expectancies for male and female babies would increase by 5 and 2.7 years, respectively, it said. The life expectancies for Korean male and female babies exceeded the average of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by 0.3 and 1.5 years, respectively.
By Moon So-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]