South Koreans’ life expectancy higher than OECD average

However, South Korea's suicide rate of 24.1 per 100,000 is the highest among member states, despite declining since 2010.

Lee Jaeeun

Lee Jaeeun

The Korea Herald



July 26, 2023

SEOUL – South Korean babies born in 2023 are expected to live 83.6 years, 3.3 years longer than the average life expectancy for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, data showed Tuesday.

The life expectancy of South Koreans born this year increased by 1.8 years from 10 years ago, and is one month longer than a year earlier, according to the OECD’s Health Statistics 2023 report.

The average life expectancy for OECD countries was 80.3. Of the OECD members, South Koreans’ life expectancy was the second highest after Japan, with 84.5 years. The figure for Mexico and the United States stood at 75.4 years and 76.4 years, respectively.

Korea’s avoidable mortality rate was 142.0 per 100,000 people, lower than the OECD average of 239.1. Avoidable mortality rate refers to the average number of deaths from preventable causes.

Korea’s infant mortality rate, meanwhile, was 2.4 per 1,000 newborn children, 1.6 lower than the OECD average of 4.0.

The country also had the second-lowest obesity rate for people over 15 among the OECD member countries at 36.7 percent.

But South Korea’s suicide rate of 24.1 per 100,000 is the highest among member states, although it has been declining since 2010 when it stood at 35.0. The OECD average suicide rate stands at 11.0. Mexico recorded the lowest rate with 6.3, while the figures for Japan and the US are 15.4 and 14.1, respectively.

The percentage of South Koreans who smoke every day reached 15.4 percent, slightly below the OECD average of 15.9 percent. Annual alcohol consumption in South Korea recorded a rate of 7.7 liters, just under the OECD average of 8.6 liters.

South Korea’s medical sector infrastructure, such as high-tech equipment and hospital bed numbers, was generally better than other OECD countries, although the country trailed in the number of practicing doctors and nurses, which stood at 2.6 and 8.8 per 1,000 people, respectively.

The country’s current annual health expenditures stood at $4,189.1 per capita, with the number expected to rise steadily due to Korea’s aging population.

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