The potential to live a long and healthy life is a fundamental aspect of human development. The second part of the twentieth century witnessed enormous progress in improving health and survival around the world. Life expectancy at birth for the world population rose from 48 years in 1950 - 1955 to 68 years in 2005 - 2010. However, wide disparities remain in levels of mortality across countries and regions. Those differences reflect inequalities in access to food, safe drinking water, sanitation, medical care and other basic human needs. They also reflect differences in risk factors, behavioural choices and societal contexts that affect the survival of individuals.
The report provides a detailed analysis of the sex- and age-patterns of mortality that produce regional trends and differences in the levels of life expectancy at birth. In addition, the report contains a decomposition analysis to pinpoint the specific causes of death that are responsible for deficits in survival among populations of selected regions compared to the longest-lived populations in the world.