The Tiny Country That Has The Highest Life Expectancy In The World

We all want to live happily ever after, and hopefully, most of that longer life is healthy. How we live our lives can impact how long we live. A 2018 article in Circulation found that these five lifestyle factors can add 14 years to your life: keeping your body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9, never smoking, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, drinking alcohol only moderately, and having a high-quality diet.

Even if you do what you can to increase your longevity, not every person in your country will adopt the same lifestyle. That's what can factor into the average life expectancy of a country. The World Populations Prospects from the United Nations tracks the life expectancies of hundreds of countries, and it projects the life expectancy in the United States in 2023 to be 79.7. That might not sound too bad, considering that a 2022 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a two-year dip in life expectancy. Yet the United States ranks 69th in the world in terms of average life expectancy, well below countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada. What country ranks highest in the world for life expectancy? Monaco.

Why Monaco ranks highest

This tiny country that's surrounded by France and sits on the Mediterranean is less than a square mile. In fact, New York's Central Park is larger than Monaco. Monaco is also a rather rich country, with almost three times the GDP per capita of the United States. Monaco is rather unique because almost one-third of its population of 40,000 people are millionaires. The "Billionaires' Playground" also has almost zero poverty (via Business Insider). The Embassy of Monaco says that it has almost 100% literacy.

The average life expectancy in Monaco for 2023 is projected to be 87. The World Population Review attributes the high life expectancy in Monaco to the Mediterranean diet, state-funded healthcare, and being able to afford a healthy lifestyle. According to the United Nations, when a country spends a large portion of its GDP on health, it usually translates to a higher life expectancy. However, that's not the case with the United States, which spends almost 18% of its GDP on healthcare and has the lowest life expectancy among other high-income nations (via The Commonwealth Fund).

Factors that lower life expectancy

The United Nations says that there can be a huge discrepancy in life expectancy within a country depending on income and education gaps. After all, someone with a lower income wouldn't be able to access and afford basic preventive measures to keep them healthy. A 2020 article in the International Journal for Equity in Health looked at structural factors that influenced the life expectancies of people in Brazil, Ethiopia, and the United States. Because the United States has a market-based healthcare system, limited regulation of public health, weak social safety nets, low political participation, and significant income gaps, life expectancy is lower than in peer countries.

The United States isn't the only country that sees gaps in life expectancies among its residents. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that structural and institutional weaknesses contribute to the United Kingdom ranking lower in the world in life expectancy. They pointed out that life expectancies among poorer communities were dropping.