EDITORIAL

Halving premature death

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Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1272
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259971

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Summary

Death in old age is inevitable, but death before old age is not. Except where HIV or political disturbances predominated, mortality rates have been decreasing for decades, helped by sanitation, health care, and social changes. Even in low-income countries, at current death rates, three-quarters of newborn infants would survive to age 50, and half would survive to age 70. If disease control keeps progressing and economic development proceeds, then within the next few decades—except where disasters or new epidemics supervene—under-50 mortality should fall to less than half of today's 15% global risk, and under-70 mortality should be less than one in six.