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The average number of years babies born around the world are expected to live without any serious medical or health issues increased by about 5 years since 2000.

Expand chart
Data: World Health Organization; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: The developed world is having fewer children and will soon have a much larger population of retired, elderly people with health care needs. This is likely to cause significant financial strain on government programs and the labor force in many countries. But if people are staying healthy longer, it could lessen some of those economic impacts.

Key quote: "There’s a potential for some significant positive offset through higher elderly workforce participation," Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute, told Axios. "It’s also possible — but not certain — that health spans will continue to rise along with life spans, and that may take some pressure off."

Highlights:

  • China surpassed the U.S. for healthy life expectancy for the first time in 2016. Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, told Axios that one reason is that obesity and drug use are not as common in China.
  • Syria has one of the most dramatic declines in healthy life expectancy, as the country has been plagued with civil war, ISIS and a refugee crisis.
  • The U.S.'s healthy life expectancy has dropped by 0.2 years since 2010. Overall life expectancy has also dropped the past few years, which has been attributed, at least in part, to the opioid crisis.
  • Japan and Singapore have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. But the Japanese and Singaporeans are also some of the healthiest, longest-living people in the world. One reason is their diets.
  • "Compared with other developed nations, Japanese people on average eat fewer calories per day, and in a healthier pattern," Naomi Moriyama, who has written a book on the subject, told the Today Show.
  • In addition, Singapore's healthcare system is efficient and effective, according to the Cigna Global health insurance company.

Go deeper

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Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.