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All over the planet, people are living for more years.
In 1950, the world average of life expectancy at the time of birth was only 46 years. In 2015, it had shot up at age 71 .
But in some countries progress has not always been without problems. Diseases, epidemics and unexpected events remind us that not all of us are guaranteed those longer lives.
Meanwhile, the deaths that we can worry about (from those caused by terrorism to those caused by natural disasters) constitute less than 0.5% of the total .
But around the world many people still die at a young age or for causes that could have been prevented.
The story of when people die is actually the story of how they die and how this has changed over time.
Causes of death around the world
Around 56 million people died in 2017 around the world.
This figure was 10 million higher than that registered in 1990, with a global population that has been growing and with people who live longer on average.
More than 70% die of chronic noncommunicable diseases that progress slowly.
The most deadly are cardiovascular diseases that affect the heart and arteries and are responsible for one in three deaths.
This is double the rate of cancer, the second cause, which causes one out of every six deaths.
Other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, some respiratory diseases and dementia are also among the first on the list.
What may be surprising is the number of people still dying from causes that can be avoided.
About 1 , 6 million died of diarrhea-related diseases in 2017, which places them among the top ten causes of death. In some countries, in fact, they kill the most people.
Neonatal disorders, which cause the death of the baby before its 28th birthday, claimed 1.8 million newborn lives in 2017.
The frequency of these deaths varies widely from country to country. In Japan, less than one in 1,000 babies die during the first four weeks of life, compared to less than one in 20 in some of the poorest countries in the world.
But there are other preventable deaths at the top of the list.
The accidents left a high death toll in richer countries and poorer alike , claiming 1.2 million lives in 2017.
While many high-income countries saw significant drops in road deaths, globally they remained stable.
Meanwhile, almost twice as many people worldwide died of suicide or homicide.
In the United Kingdom, fatal suicides were 16 times more numerous and stood out as the leading cause of death among men between 20 and 40 years old.
What the different types of death tell us
The causes of death change over time and as a country develops.
In the past, contagious diseases played a more important role than they play today.
In 1990, one in three deaths were the result of communicable and infectious diseases. By 2017 this proportion had fallen to one in five .
Children are particularly vulnerable to contagious diseases. In the 19th century, one out of every three children in the world died before the age of five.
Infant mortality has been significantly reduced since then thanks to vaccines and improvements in hygiene, nutrition, medical assistance and access to clean water.
Child deaths in rich countries are relatively rare, while the poorest regions today register death rates similar to those of the United Kingdom and Sweden during the first half of the 20th century and continue to reach them.
The decline in child deaths is one of the greatest success stories of modern medical care .
The number of children dying each year has dropped by more than half in recent decades, as we have more effective ways to fight contagious diseases.
This pushed mortality rates towards deaths caused by non-communicable diseases among the older population.
In many countries, concerns about the growing burden on family members and health systems rise as people get older and suffer from more lasting illnesses .
Of course, there are unexpected events that can affect this overall improvement. The HIV crisis of the 1980s is a striking example.
The epidemic was felt in all regions of the world, but the most notable impact on life expectancy occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
After decades of stable improvement, life expectancy dropped substantially in many countries in the region .
A combination of antiretroviral therapy, treatment and education in prevention made global deaths from AIDS-related illnesses halved in the last decade alone: from two million a year to a million.
Since then, life expectancy began to recover in these countries, but only now is it returning to pre-crisis levels. Even in the richest countries, continued progress is not guaranteed.
Life expectancy in the US fell slightly in recent years, largely as a result of the opioid crisis .
Life expectancy for first-time mothers did not increase steadily either.
There are about 10 countries where a young woman is now more likely to die during or shortly after birth that his mother had .
And USA he is among them.
What remains to advance
The current overall picture is positive: we are living longer lives while fewer people (especially children) are dying from preventable causes .
But it is also true that we still have a long way to go.
More advances in sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, vaccination and basic health care are crucial for this.
So are the increase in safety measures and attention to mental health.
Understanding what people are dying is vital if we want this recent progress to continue.