Infographic: We’re Living Longer, But Less Healthily Too

An image you can’t unsee: For every one year of life we gain, only 9.5 months of it will be in good health.

When we hope to live to 100, it’s through a montage of quiet, joyful moments–enjoying a day on the porch or sitting with grandkids. No one’s goal is to reach the centennial mark bedridden or tethered to machines.


Unfortunately, as a fascinating infographic by Bonnie Berkowitz, Emily Chow, and Todd Lindeman for The Washington Post points out, while people are living longer than they used to, the percentage of our time living (and dealing) with disease is growing as well. We’re living longer, worse lives.

The graphic examines data for people born in 1990 and 2010, which is presented in a simple X/Y scatter point. Life expectancy is on the Y and percentage of healthy years is on the X. What you’ll notice right off the bat is that Japanese women live the longest (85.9 years), but Chinese women live the healthiest (with almost 87% of their lives in good health). The men of Haiti have it the absolute worst, with a life expectancy of just 32.5 years following the 2010 earthquake.

But the best insights come through the simple animations. Toggling the graphic between men and women becomes a mass migration, a trend that no eye can miss. Men don’t live as long as women, but we live a greater percentage of our years healthy. Toggling between 1990 and 2010 is far more complicated, with dots moving every which direction for both camps. With women, however, there is a notable contingent of the longest living ladies shifting to the left, living less life healthily.

Still, maybe it’s not all bad, depending on your outlook. The fact of the matter is, most people in the developed world are still seeing a net gain of healthy years, even in light of disease and disability. So long as that point stays true, we can’t complain too much.

See more here.

[Hat tip: FlowingData]


[Image: Patient via Shutterstock]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.