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What is the average lifespan for a woman?

The average lifespan for a woman varies across different countries and has increased over time with improvements in healthcare and living standards. According to the latest global data, the worldwide average life expectancy at birth for a woman is approximately 74 years. However, there are significant differences between developed and developing regions.

Life expectancy for women by country

Here are some examples of average lifespans for women in selected countries:

  • Japan – 87.5 years
  • Spain – 85.5 years
  • Switzerland – 85.3 years
  • Singapore – 85.2 years
  • Italy – 84.9 years
  • France – 84.9 years
  • Australia – 84.6 years
  • Canada – 84.1 years
  • Germany – 83.2 years
  • United Kingdom – 82.9 years
  • United States – 81.2 years
  • China – 77.8 years
  • Brazil – 77.4 years
  • Indonesia – 73.6 years
  • India – 70.4 years
  • Nigeria – 54.7 years

As illustrated above, women in developed countries like Japan and Spain have some of the highest life expectancies globally, living over 85 years on average. In comparison, average lifespan remains below 75 years for women in lower income regions such as India and Nigeria.

Historical trends in female life expectancy

Life expectancy for women has increased significantly over the past century:

  • In 1920, average female life expectancy worldwide was approximately 48 years.
  • By 1960, this had risen to around 63 years.
  • In 2000, global female life expectancy was 70 years.
  • Today, it stands at 74 years.

The gains have been driven by various social, economic and medical advances, such as:

  • Improved access to healthcare, vaccines, antibiotics and treatments for infectious diseases.
  • Better maternal care and reduced maternal mortality.
  • Improved nutrition and food availability.
  • Safer water and improved sanitation and hygiene.
  • Higher incomes and education levels.
  • Wider availability of family planning resources.

As a result of these changes, many more women now survive childbirth and live long enough to reach middle and old age.

Factors influencing longevity

There are a variety of factors that contribute to longevity and differences in average lifespan between countries, including:

  • Genetics: While lifespan is not pre-determined by genetics, family history can play a role.
  • Gender: Women tend to live longer than men on average worldwide.
  • Lifestyle factors: Diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol intake affect health and longevity.
  • Access to healthcare: Regular checkups and screening improve preventative healthcare.
  • Living standards: Higher incomes and education are correlated with longer lifespans.
  • Environment: Air pollution and unsafe water sources can impact health.
  • Culture: Social ties and community engagement may contribute to wellbeing.

A combination of genetic, social, economic, cultural and environmental elements contribute to longevity outcomes among the female population.

Does marriage affect women’s longevity?

Research indicates that married women tend to live longer than unmarried women on average. Some key points:

  • In the U.S., married women had a life expectancy at age 65 of around 19.8 years compared to 17.6 years for unmarried women.
  • One study found married women had a 20% lower risk of mortality compared to unmarried women.
  • The effect seems greater for men – married men had a much lower mortality risk than unmarried men.
  • Potential reasons include economic benefits, social and family support, healthier behaviors encouraged by a spouse.
  • The gap in life expectancy has decreased over time as lifestyles for married and single women become more similar.

However, the longevity benefits are correlated with higher quality marriages. Poor quality marriages marked by conflict may not have the same positive effects.

Life expectancy for women at different ages

Here is a look at approximate average remaining life expectancy for women at different current ages:

Age Remaining Life Expectancy
0 74 years
20 64 years
40 44 years
60 24 years
80 9 years

A newborn girl can expect to live 74 years on average based on current global averages. By age 20, average remaining life expectancy is approximately 64 additional years. At age 40, women can anticipate living another 44 years, on average.

These statistics represent global averages. Actual lifespans vary significantly by country, as well as individual circumstances.

Longevity prospects for the 21st century

Female life expectancy will likely continue rising this century due to several trends:

  • Advances in medicine and public health programs.
  • Greater access to education for women worldwide.
  • Technological breakthroughs in disease treatment.
  • Lower maternal mortality rates.
  • Improved nutrition and food security.
  • More effective family planning resources.
  • Reduced smoking rates in developed nations.

However, risks like climate change, growing obesity rates and antibiotic resistance could challenge further increases in longevity.

Some key goals for improving women’s life expectancy globally include:

  • Expanding access to vaccines and childcare.
  • Investing in clean water and sanitation infrastructure.
  • Increasing girls’ education opportunities.
  • Boosting gender equality and women’s earning potential.

Achieving these aims could enable women worldwide to live increasingly long, healthy and productive lives.

Life expectancy trends in the U.S.

In the United States, the average life expectancy for women at birth is approximately 81 years according to 2020 data from the CDC. This lags behind many other high-income nations.

Life expectancy for U.S. women at age 65 is about 20.7 additional years, one of the longest in the world. However, getting to age 65 is a challenge for many.

While life expectancy rose steadily for American women through the 20th century, progress has stalled in recent years. Some contributing factors include:

  • Increasing obesity and chronic conditions.
  • High rates of heart disease and diabetes.
  • High maternal mortality for a developed nation.
  • Greater socioeconomic disparities in health.

Addressing these systemic issues will be key to improving longevity prospects for women in the United States going forward.


Average life expectancy at birth for women globally is about 74 years, having risen dramatically from 48 years in 1920. Huge gains have been made but large disparities remain between developed and developing regions. Longevity is influenced by a mix of genetic, social, economic and environmental factors. Ongoing progress in women’s health, education and rights this century could enable continuing increases in lifespan worldwide. With attention to persistent public health challenges, women today can aspire to increasingly long, healthy lives.