Virginia Zarrulli

Virginia Zarrulli

HEALTHY LONGEVITY INEQUALITY: FIRST INSIGHTS FROM THE GLOBAL BURDEN OF DISEASE
Virginia Zarulli


Today people, on average, reach older ages in better health than what they used to do only a few decades ago, because there has been a general improvement of healthy survival and a postponement of debility. But do more individuals enjoy increasingly similar number of years of healthy life or the differences among individuals in years in good health lived has widened?

Health adjusted life expectancy (HALE) is a measure of health expectancy that combines both dimensions of mortality and morbidity: it indicates the average number of years that a person can expect to live in "full health" by considering years lost to mortality and years lived in less than full health due to disease or injury. HALE is used by numerous international organizations and is calculated from the data of the Global Burden of Disease Study. Therefore, we use this measure to produce the first insights on the inequality in the length of healthy life at the global level, using the estimates provided for the 204 countries of the GBD.
From 1990 to 2019, HALE has increased in all countries for both sexes, more at younger ages than at older ages. HALE inequality among individuals, instead, has decreased at younger ages similarly for both men and women while at older ages has slightly increased, and slightly more for men than for women. At age 0 the reduction was of 2.13 years for women and 2.16 years for men; at age 65 the increase was of 0.23 years for men and 0.16 years for women. The reduction of HALE inequality at birth (and to a lesser extend also at age 15) has been much more substantial among low income countries than among high income countries.