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Last Updated : Mar 13, 2019 12:04 PM IST | Source:

Comment | In which states do people live longer?

Kerala’s life expectancy is higher than Russia’s while Uttar Pradesh is worse than Ethiopia

Manas Chakravarty @moneycontrolcom

Women in Kerala on an average live more than 14 years longer than men in Chhattisgarh. That’s how wide the disparity in life expectancy is in India.

The latest RBI Handbook of Statistics on Indian States shows that women in Kerala have an average life expectancy of 77.9 years, while men in Chhattisgarh can expect to live an average of 63.6 years. The Kerala average life expectancy for females is better than Russia’s, while that for Chhattisgarh’s males is on par with Ethiopia’s.

Not that life expectancy for India as a whole is great either. At 68.7 years, we are behind Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia, all economies much poorer than ours. That says a lot not just about our healthcare system, but also our priorities. By way of contrast, the average person in Vietnam has seven and a half years more of life than we do.

The state with the highest male life expectancy is Delhi, at 72.7 years, but the national capital is too small a Union Territory to consider and Kerala comes next with 72.2 years. The lowest male life expectancy is in Chhattisgarh (63.6 years), closely followed by Madhya Pradesh (63.7 years).

Among women, life expectancy is highest in Kerala, at 77.9 years, while the lowest is Uttar Pradesh, at 65.6 years. UP’s female life expectancy is shamefully even lower than the average for Madagascar or for Rwanda.

Overall, for both men and women, average life expectancy is highest for Kerala, at 75.1 years and lowest for Uttar Pradesh, at 64.8 years. The chart has the figures for other states.

Life expectancy in year 1


The world over, life expectancy is higher for women than for men. That holds true for Indian states as well, with the solitary exception of Bihar. In that state, while females may expect to live an average of 68.5 years, male life expectancy is 68.9 years. It isn’t clear what’s so special about Bihar.

Life expectancy should intuitively be correlated with income, because higher income means people can spend more on health. But much depends on the emphasis state governments give to healthcare. For instance, Haryana’s per capita income is higher than Kerala’s, but life expectancy in Haryana is almost six years lower than in Kerala. Life expectancy in West Bengal is higher than in Gujarat, although the latter has a higher level of per capita income. And Bihar is much poorer than Madhya Pradesh, but has better life expectancy. So it’s not just a question of money, state governments need to change their priorities too.
First Published on Mar 13, 2019 10:08 am
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