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People around the world are now living longer. According to the government information life expectancy in the UK has increased (Office For National Statistics 2004). Their data showing that life expectancy for women increased from 49 years in 1901 to 81 by 2002, and for men it increased from 45 to 76 years. This paper examine the factors that contribute to increased life expectancy in the UK and in the World.
Firstly medical changes have allowed life expectancy to increase because as Tallis (2005) state better health information, medicine can prevent many diseases and special medical care available. In the UK many improvements in the health care "have made a significant contribution to the major and sustained increases in life expectancy" (Gray et al, 2006, 107). In particular, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) point to ten health advances that increased life expectancy in the last 100 years. For example immunisations, control of infections, safer food and reducing heart illnesses. Marmot (2003) point to research that show the level of death from heart disease is lower in countries where there is higher supply of fruit and vegetables.
Another factor is the effect of healthcare in the area pregnancy an infant caring. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA 2010a) state that the increase in life expectancy of the World's population is because of improvements that has been including "lowered infant and child mortality; better nutrition, education, health care and access to family planning;" (UNFPA 2010a, np). The UNFPA (2010a) emphasise how health in the early years is increasing life expectancy because for example young children are eating better The UNFPA also indicate the importance of healthcare and family planning and for women mean less pregnancy and infant health problems. An example of a health factor that is reducing death at birth and pregnancy issues is the increase in skilled health staff (UNFPA 2009). According to Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) this increases life expectancy because this means when young children grow up they will have less illness connected to infant ill health.
Additionally, the UNFPA (2009) state that education is also another important factor to increasing life expectancy. They say this is so especially for women that finish secondary school education because it means that girls are stronger physically and emotionally and this lead to fewer infant deaths. This make sense because education across all countries give people more knowledge and they are able to make better decisions, choices and live healthier life (Marmot 2009).
Meanwhile a report by the World Health Organisation show that there are also many social factors affecting the life expectancy (Marmot 2009). In richer developed countries life expectancy has increased because the social conditions are better because the people that are living longer are not suffering from issues relating to poverty such as not eating well, access to medical care and clean water (Marmot 2009). More of the world now has access to cleaner water (UNFPA 2010b). So over the past 100 years in richer countries there have been improvements to health, water and nutrition which is helping to increase life expectancy.
Improvements in economic situation of people has led to increases in life expectancy around the world (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003). According to Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) diseases are less common if the social position of the person is better because these people can pay for better food and better medicine and better care. However at same time they say not only about rich or poor because as stated by Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) the social factors increasing life expectancy can affect all level of society. For example they state that "even among middle-class office workers, lower ranking staff suffer much more disease and earlier death than higher ranking staff" (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003, p10). This is because social factors that can effect life expectancy can happen at any level. The people that are living longer have good social factors such good family relations and support, good education in the youth years, secure employement, job satisfaction and good housing. All these factors find the World Health Organisation can improve life expectancy (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003).
Furthermore reduced stress is example of social factor that is helping people live longer. The World Health Organisation say that "continuing anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem, social isolation and lack of control over work and home life, have powerful effects on health" (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003, p12). Consequently life expectancy is increasing around the world for people who are experiencing these problems less and less.
Stress can also include stress at work which can have affect in life expectancy. According to Wilkinson and Marmot 2003 the "psychosocial environment at work is an important determinant of health "(p18). Other employment factors that increase life expectancy are high job security and high job satisfaction (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003).
Social isolation is another factor that affect life expectancy. "Life is short where quality is poor. By causing hardship and resentment, poverty, social exclusion and discrimination cost lives" (Wilkinson and Marmot 2003, p16). Therefore society where people are not isolated is helping to increase life expectancy. So then in countries around the world factor is helping to increase life expectancy where people experience less isolation and there is more community and relationship. Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) say however that this factor can also include for example discrimination, racism and unemployment. In the UK there is higher life expectancy in areas where there is less social isolation and unemployment. Rich areas such as Chelsea and Kensington in London say the BBC (2009) have highest life expectancy in the UK, which is 84 for men and 89 for women. But in Glasgow which has many social problems (BBC 2006) the life expectancy is only 70 years for man and 77 years for women.
The evidence it seems that people are living longer for many reasons. Either for health, better medicine, better support and social connection or increase in wealth. People not only living longer in rich countries but also in poor countries where the country is maybe still poor but there improvement in health and education. As long these factors increase for people then more people will live longer.