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Charted: Healthcare Spending and Life Expectancy, by Country

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Comparing Countries' Healthcare Spend to Their Average Life Expectancies

Charted: Healthcare Spending and Life Expectancy, by Country

Over the last century, life expectancy at birth has more than doubled across the globe, largely thanks to innovations and discoveries in various medical fields around sanitation, vaccines, and preventative healthcare.

Yet, while the average life expectancy for humans has increased significantly on a global scale, there’s still a noticeable gap in average life expectancies between different countries.

What’s the explanation for this divide? According to World Bank data compiled by Truman Du, it may be partially related to the amount of money a country spends on its healthcare.

More Spending Generally Means More Years

The latest available data from the World Bank includes both the healthcare spending per capita of 178 different countries and their average life expectancy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the analysis found that countries that spent more on healthcare tended to have higher average life expectancies up until reaching the 80-year mark.

CountryHealth expenditure per capita (USD, 2019)Life expectancy at birth, total (years, 2020)
Japan$4,36085
Singapore$2,63384
Korea, Rep.$2,62583
Norway$8,00783
Australia$5,42783
Switzerland$9,66683
Iceland$6,27583
Israel$3,45683
Malta$2,53283
Sweden$5,67182
Italy$2,90682
Spain$2,71182
Ireland$5,42982
France$4,49282
Finland$4,45082
New Zealand$4,21182
Canada$5,04882
Luxembourg$6,22182
Denmark$6,00382
Netherlands$5,33581
Austria$5,24281
Cyprus$1,99681
Greece$1,50181
Portugal$2,22181
Germany$5,44081
United Kingdom$4,31381
Belgium$4,96081
Slovenia$2,21981
Costa Rica$92280
Qatar$1,80780
Chile$1,37680
Barbados$1,14379
Maldives$85479
Lebanon$66379
Cuba$1,03279
Panama$1,19379
Estonia$1,59978
Czech Republic$1,84478
United Arab Emirates$1,84378
Oman$62578
Uruguay$1,66178
Turkiye$39678
Croatia$1,04078
Bosnia and Herzegovina$55478
Colombia$49577
Bahrain$94077
Thailand$29677
United States$10,92177
Seychelles$84077
Ecuador$48677
Antigua and Barbuda$76077
Sri Lanka$16177
China$53577
Algeria$24877
Peru$37077
Morocco$17477
Tunisia$23377
Iran, Islamic Rep.$47077
Slovak Republic$1,34277
Argentina$94677
Poland$1,01477
St. Lucia$50276
Malaysia$43776
Brazil$85376
Brunei Darussalam$67276
Montenegro$73576
North Macedonia$43776
Hungary$1,06276
Kuwait$1,75976
Vietnam$18175
Honduras$18875
Latvia$1,16775
Saudi Arabia$1,31675
Armenia$52475
Mexico$54075
Lithuania$1,37075
Belize$29375
Nicaragua$16175
Jordan$33475
Jamaica$32775
Guatemala$27175
Paraguay$38874
Romania$73974
Dominican Republic$49174
Serbia$64174
Belarus$39974
Mauritius$68674
Bahamas$2,00574
Georgia$29174
Trinidad and Tobago$1,16874
Bulgaria$69874
El Salvador$30074
Samoa$27273
Cabo Verde$17873
Solomon Islands$11273
Azerbaijan$19373
Bangladesh$4673
St. Vincent and the Grenadines$35573
Grenada$53472
Egypt, Arab Rep.$15072
Bhutan$11672
Venezuela, RB$33972
Moldova$28472
Indonesia$12072
Uzbekistan$9972
Suriname$61972
Kyrgyz Republic$6272
Bolivia$24672
Kazakhstan$27371
Philippines$14271
Russian Federation$65371
Tajikistan$6271
Ukraine$24871
Nepal$5371
Tonga$24271
Iraq$25371
Vanuatu$10471
Sao Tome and Principe$10871
Mongolia$16370
Cambodia$11370
Guyana$32670
India$6470
Botswana$48270
Timor-Leste$9370
Rwanda$5169
Kiribati$17269
Turkmenistan$50068
Lao PDR$6868
Senegal$5968
Fiji$23668
Djibouti$6267
Pakistan$3967
Madagascar$2067
Myanmar$6067
Kenya$8367
Ethiopia$2767
Gabon$21567
Eritrea$2567
Tanzania$4066
Sudan$4766
Afghanistan$6665
Mauritania$5865
Congo, Rep.$4965
Papua New Guinea$6565
Malawi$3065
Comoros$7265
Liberia$5364
South Africa$54764
Ghana$7564
Haiti$5764
Zambia$6964
Namibia$42764
Uganda$3264
Niger$3163
Gambia, The$3062
Benin$2962
Burkina Faso$4262
Guinea$4362
Burundi$2162
Zimbabwe$10362
Angola$7161
Mozambique$3961
Togo$5161
Congo, Dem. Rep.$2161
Eswatini$26461
Mali$3460
Cameroon$5460
Equatorial Guinea$25559
Guinea-Bissau$6359
Cote d'Ivoire$7558
South Sudan$2358
Sierra Leone$4655
Nigeria$7155
Lesotho$12455
Chad$3055

However, there were a few slight exceptions. For instance, while the United States has the largest spending of any country included in the dataset, its average life expectancy of 77 years is lower than many other countries that spend far less per capita.

What’s going on in the United States? While there are several intermingling factors at play, some researchers believe a big contributor is the country’s higher infant mortality rate, along with its higher relative rate of violence among young adults.

On the other end of the spectrum, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea have the highest life expectancies on the list despite their relatively low spending per capita.

It’s worth mentioning that this wasn’t always the case—in the 1960s, Japan’s life expectancy was actually the lowest among the G7 countries, and South Korea’s was below 60 years, making it one of the top 30 countries by improved life expectancy:

countries with the greatest increase in life expectancy since 1960

View the full-size infographic

In fact, the last 60 years have seen many countries substantially increase their average life expectancies from the 30-40 year range to 70+ years. But as the header chart shows, there are still many countries lagging behind in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

How High Can Average Life Expectancy Go?

Since people are living longer than they’ve ever lived before, how much higher will average life expectancies be in another 100 years?

Recent research published in Nature Communications suggests that, under the right circumstances, human beings have the potential to live up to 150 years.

Projections from the UN predict that growth will be divided, with developed countries seeing higher life expectancies than developing regions.

Estimated life expectancy in future

However, as seen in the above chart from the World Economic Forum and using UN data, it’s likely the gap between developed and developing countries will narrow over time.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Healthcare

Ranked: The Best U.S. States for Retirement

Getting ready for retirement? See which states score the highest in terms of affordability, quality of life, and health care.

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Ranked: The Best U.S. States for Retirement

What is the most important aspect of retirement planning?

If you said finances, you’re probably right. But have you ever thought about where the best place is to retire? Being strategic about location can make a big impact on your quality of life, and perhaps help your savings go just a bit further.

To help break it down, we’ve visualized data from personal finance platform, WalletHub, which ranked the best U.S. states for retirement as of 2023.

Data and Methodology

WalletHub ranked each state using 47 metrics across three dimensions.

  • Affordability (7 metrics worth 40 points)
  • Quality of Life (22 metrics worth 30 points)
  • Health Care (18 metrics worth 30 points)

Here are some examples of what each dimension measures:

  • Affordability: Cost of living and taxation
  • Quality of Life: Quality of elder-abuse protections and crime rates
  • Health Care: Number of health professionals per capita and life expectancy

Visit the source for the full list of metrics.

The final scores (visualized as the bars in the infographic above) represent each state’s weighted average across all metrics. See below for more comprehensive results.

RankStateScoreAffordability
(rank)
Quality of Life
(rank)
Health Care
(rank)
1Virginia57.6161111
2TFlorida57.49428
2TColorado57.414275
4Wyoming55.65938
5Delaware55.563318
6New Hampshire55.03157
7South Dakota53.625309
8Minnesota53.54021
9Idaho53.2151731
10North Dakota53.0222520
11Utah52.7202426
12North Carolina52.6122335
13Missouri52.4172832
14Pennsylvania52.336312
15TMontana52.1241529
15TSouth Carolina52.143839
17Massachusetts51.94712
18California51.6321910
19Alaska51.326368
20Arizona51.1183525
21Wisconsin50.9341417
22Alabama50.714450
23Ohio49.827837
24Hawaii49.738294
25Nebraska49.3371615
26Iowa48.9351224
27Georgia48.674042
28Michigan48.0291836
29TMaine47.543613
29TNew Mexico47.5214630
31Indiana47.3233140
32TNevada47.2114241
32TTennessee47.224845
34TVermont47.14876
34TConnecticut47.144263
36Kansas46.8303233
37West Virginia46.434349
38Oregon46.1412121
39Texas45.9283734
40Rhode Island45.0393914
41Arkansas44.784944
42Maryland44.6462019
43Washington44.5451323
44Illinois44.3422227
45Louisiana43.9134547
46New York43.7501016
47Oklahoma43.6194743
48Mississippi40.8105048
49New Jersey40.2493422
50Kentucky38.8334146

According to this methodology, Virginia is currently the best state for retirement. Although the Southeastern state does not excel in any one dimension, it scores consistently well across all three to create a very balanced retirement profile.

This gives it a slight advantage over second place Florida, which excels in quality of life and affordability, but falls further behind in terms of health care. Third-placed Colorado is a mirror of Florida, offering excellent health care but a lower quality of life in comparison.

How to Interpret These Results

It’s important to remember that this ranking is purely based on data and the methodology above, and may not be tailored to your individual preferences.

For example, if you believe that health services will be very important during retirement, you may rank Minnesota (#1 in terms of health care) much higher than eighth place.

You may notice that prioritizing one dimension will often come at a trade-off in others. Looking at Minnesota once more, we can see that the state is also one of America’s most expensive.

Looking to retire outside of the U.S.? Check out this graphic on the top 25 countries to retire in.

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