FIGURE 1. Life expectancy around the world has increased steadily for nearly 200 years.

From the following article:

A systematic look at an old problem

Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

Nature 451, 644-647(7 February 2008)

doi:10.1038/451644a

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The graph (adapted from ref. 1) shows the life expectancy in the then longest-living country. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the increase was driven mainly by improvements in sanitation, housing and education, causing a steady decline in early and mid-life mortality, which was chiefly due to infections. This trend continued with the development of vaccines and then antibiotics. By the latter half of the twentieth century, there was little room for further reduction in early and mid-life mortality. The continuing increase is due almost entirely to a new phenomenon: the decline in late-life mortality.

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