Life expectancy for Kenyans now 58 years, says report

File | NATION The minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, during the launch of the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census results at the KICC in Nairobi on August 31, 2010. With him is assistant minister Peter Kenneth.

File | NATION The minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, during the launch of the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census results at the KICC in Nairobi on August 31, 2010. With him is assistant minister Peter Kenneth.

By SAMUEL SIRINGI ssiringi@ke.nationmedia.com
 Babies born today have more years to live than many of their parents if current demographic indicators remain constant.

A United Nations Population Fund report released on Wednesday shows that the number of years Kenyans born at the same time can expect to live, or life expectancy at birth, has gone up by three years.

The State of World Population 2011 Report: People and Possibilities in a World of 7 billion shows that the average life expectancy of both males and females currently stands at 58 years.

It is an increase of three years from the 55.5 years where the demographic indicator stood as per the 2010 report.

But it was more good news for female Kenyans, whose life expectancy has gone up from 56 years to 59.

They are better off compared to their male counterparts, who can expect to live for 57 years.

The 2010 report indicated a life expectancy of 55 years for men.

The rise in life expectancy is a big improvement from the 2008 level, when it stood at 54 years for both men and women, according to World Health Organisation and World Bank statistics.

Life expectancy is the average number of years lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remained constant.

The life expectancy has also gone up for some of the neighbouring countries.

Female Tanzanians still enjoy the highest life expectancy in the region.

The country’s female population would likely live for 60 years, an increase from 57.7 years as per last year’s report.

Income levels

On average, Tanzanians would live for 59 years, up from 56.9 years as per the 2010 report.

Men in the country have two years less to live compared to women.

Uganda has the lowest life expectancy at 54.5 years, an increase of less than a year.

The country had an average life expectancy of 54.1 years last year.

It means that each woman would prefer to have an average of five children.

The report, to be officially launched in Kenya on Monday, also shows that 22 in every 100 Kenyans live in urban areas.

It notes that many people are living longer and healthier lives, and couples are choosing to have smaller families.

But 215 million women in developing countries who would like to plan and space their children lack access to effective contraception.

“In some of the poorest countries, high fertility rates hamper development and perpetuate poverty,” the report said.

Usually, the number of years people can live is influenced by many factors, including the quality of life that is directly or indirectly determined by income levels, education, health expenditure and access to safe water.

Rwandan men and women have a life expectancy of 54 years and 57 years for men and women respectively.

Japanese women, at 87 years, still have the highest life expectancy in the world. The current figure represents an increase from 86.6 years as per the 2010 report. It is expected that the population of the world will reach seven billion on Monday.

The report shows that the number of women in Kenya is now the same as that of men.

The news either means that more girls were born over the last two years or that more men may have died over the same period.

According to the report, there are 20.8 million women and the same number of men.

There were over 200,000 more women than men according to the 2009 Kenya National Population and Housing Census.

The UN report shows that there are 41.6 million people in Kenya, nearly a million more than the 40.9 million last year.

The 2009 census results put the population at 38.6 million.

The report shows that the population of Kenya is rising faster than it did a few years ago.

Reproductive period

It says the growth rate is currently 2.7, nearly half the economic growth rate.

Despite this, the total fertility rate, or the average number of children each woman would prefer to have throughout the reproductive period, still remains at 4.6.

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