Life expectancy: Countries who 'punch above their weight'

Posted 18 Jan 2021

“Generally, wealthier countries have a higher average life expectancy than poorer countries,” Flinders University researcher Dr Toby Freeman says.

“However, some countries 'punch above their weight', achieving higher life expectancy than what would be expected from their income.

“And conversely, some countries ‘punch below their weight’, achieving lower life expectancy than what their income would predict.”

With the help of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, Dr Freeman is preparing a report for the World Health Organisation and taking a closer look at those countries in the Western Pacific region who ‘punch above their weight’ to look at what drives these good population health outcomes.

His work will identify examples of public policies, government strategies and civil society actions that may be contributing to countries ‘punching above their weight’ when it comes to life expectancy, in the hope of forming recommendations for governments and societies to improve their health outcomes and create more equitable life expectancy for all.

The Western Pacific region has some of the highest performing cases in the world, led by the Solomon Islands, with Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Samoa also amongst the top 10 ‘punching above’ countries.

Research category: Global Health

Project title: What are good practice examples from countries in the Western Pacific region that ‘punch above their weight' for life expectancy relative to national income?

Lead researcher: Dr Toby Freeman


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