Saturday , November 18 2017

Is life short?

Amer Al-Tameemi
Amer Al-Tameemi

When two people get angry with each other one of them may say to the other “Life is too short to hold your grudges”. But, is life really short? A few weeks ago, the UK and the rest of the world celebrated the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, who have been on the throne since 1952.

It is not only Queen Elizabeth who is enjoying a long healthy life but this seems to be a major change in life expectancy all over the world. One must admit that wealthy people, or those who live in developed countries, may have better chances to live longer than poor people or those who live in less developed countries.

Here, in Kuwait one may remember that 60 years ago people use to think that those who passed 50 years are considered very old. Now you find those who are older than 50 years or even 60 years are still relatively young, man and woman and some of them could be considered swingers. Health has improved considerably, although obesity is rampant in many countries.

The correlations between health and wealth is very evident. Medical studies have indicated that correlation, recently. Rich people are able to meet the cost of the medical care when they are ill, especially when they suffer from certain health problems such as cardiac problem, heart related, or cancer.

More important continuous health care can be more affordable by well to do people than those wretched human being. Life expectancy in Kuwait, according to the latest data, is 78.4 years. It is 78.1 years for the males and 78.7 years for the females. Kuwait ranks 35 in the world life expectancy. There are many causes of death in Kuwait but the top four cases are coronary heart disease, stroke, influenza and pneumonia and diabetes mellitus.

The country have developed, during the last years and decades, its health care abilities to treat such diseases. Many patients were able to survive these illness for a long time. Worldwide, people who are ageing represent a good portion of the total world population. Those who are over 65 years old make around 8 percent of the world population, something like 527 million.

In a country like China they are approaching 10 percent of the total population. In Japan, they make 26 percent of the population, which makes the country the fastest ageing nation. Kuwait has a long way to go to be similar to China or Japan. Those who are over 65 years are still in the neighborhood of 2-3 percent.

Our native population is still very young, almost 83 percent is under 40 years. However, there are other aspects for these demographic dynamics. Fertility rates are declining in all industrial and emerging countries. According to the World bank statistics fertility rate is 2.33 children per women, globally.

In industrial countries it is 2.0 children per women. 3.3 children is less developed countries, such as Africa, North Africa and Middle East countries. This decline in fertility became a major political concern of many governments in European countries and to certain extent in South Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China.

The fertility rate in Italy dropped, in recent years to 1.3 children per woman. The world demography is changing. How do we envision the total population in 2050? It is estimated that world population increases by 75 million every year. We should expect 8 billion people to live on this planet by then.

How many of that population will be over 65 years is an interesting question. More important what will be the average life expectancy then? One can assume that people who will be 100 years old may make a good percentage of the total at that time. So life is not really short.

By Amer Al-Tameemi Economist

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