oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Life improvements in developed and developing populations : commentary

Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



In the United Kingdom (UK), as late as 1850, almost unbelievably, the average expectation of life among the numerous poor, namely the 'mechanics, servants and labourers', was only 16 years; it was 26 years for 'tradesmen', but was 45 years for 'gentlemen'. At present, in tremendous contrast, average survival times of populations in many developed countries are very high, the longest ever. Thus, in the UK, mean survival times are approximately 74 years for males and 79 years for females. The enormous increases are largely attributable to the now very low mortality rates among the young, and to the excellent remedial treatments available for adults when ill, particularly for patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

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