Taiwanese life expectancy dips, but remains positive

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Oct 07, 2017 - Page 4

The average life expectancy of Taiwanese last year was 80 years, a reduction of 0.2 years compared with the year before, which was likely caused by last year’s deadly cold fronts, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed.

Data from the ministry showed that the average life expectancy of Taiwanese men and women is 76.8 and 83.4 years respectively; on average, their life spans are longer than those in China, Malaysia and the US, but shorter than those in Japan and Norway.

The statistical reason for last year’s shortening of the average life expectancy, which occurred irrespective of sex, was the greater-than-usual number of deaths — 172,829 people — an increase of 9,007 from 2015, the ministry said.

Roughly 6,000 of the deaths occurred from January to March, a period when the nation was experiencing powerful cold fronts, it said.

This correlation makes exceptionally poor weather the plausible explanation for the decline in life expectancy, the ministry said, adding that last year the nation’s death rate was 7.35 per 1,000, an increase of 0.37 per 1,000 from 2015.

The total number of deaths, the death rate and the increase in the death rate last year shattered 10-year records, the ministry said.

The long-term trend of the nation’s average life expectancy continues to show positive growth, a result of the National Health Insurance, improving hospitals and higher standards of living, the ministry said.

Overall, the average life expectancy is longer for both sexes in northern Taiwan and lower in the south, the ministry said.

The average life expectancy of Taipei residents — 83.36 years — is the highest of the nation’s six special municipalities, followed by that of New Taipei City residents (81.02), while Kaohsiung’s is the lowest (78.9), it said.

In the nation’s remaining administrative divisions, Hsinchu City residents have the longest average life expectancy (80.81 years) and Taitung’s residents have the shortest (75.05), the ministry said.

Taitung County’s average life expectancy is five years shorter than the national average and there are several plausible explanations for the shortfall, including less transportation infrastructure, fewer medical resources and lifestyle differences, the ministry said.