U.S. Life Expectancy Ranks 26th In The World, OECD Report Shows

11/21/2013 12:13 pm ET

Life expectancy in the United States ranks 26th out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a new report from the organization.

U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it's 81 for U.S. women. (At five years, this gap in life expectancy between men and women is smaller than the OECD average of six years).

The U.S. life expectancy comes in just behind Slovenia, at 80.1 years, and Denmark, at 79.9 years. Comparatively, life expectancy is 81.1 years in the United Kingdom and 82.8 years in Switzerland (the country that came in first in the ranking). The Russian Federation came in last, with a life expectancy of 69.8 years.

life expectancy

In the 1960, the U.S. average life expectancy was 1.5 years above the OECD average.

While this doesn't mean that life expectancy is decreasing in the United States -- The Washington Post pointed out that life expectancy is eight years longer now than it was in 1970 -- growth in life expectancy is not as fast as in other countries.

"In the United States, life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years between 1960 and 2011, but this is less than the increase of over 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in OECD countries," according to the OECD.

The report also points out that the obesity rate in the United States is the highest among all OECD countries, at 36.5 percent in 2011 (it was 15 percent in 1978). In other countries, the average obesity rate was 22.8 percent in 2011.

Even though the United States doesn't have the highest life expectancy among the OECD nations, it does have the highest share of health spending. Health costs made up 17.7 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2011, compared with the OECD average of 9.3 percent. And the U.S. spent $8,508 per capita on health that year, compared with $3,339 on average for all OECD nations.

health expenditures

You can check out the full OECD report here.