February 12, 2007 / 4:16 AM / 10 years ago

China's life expectancy to jump: report

2 Min Read

<p>A passenger walks on the platform at a railway station in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province, February 11, 2007.Sean Yong</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - Average life expectancy in China will jump 13 years to 85 years and all households will be lifted out of poverty by the middle of the century, Chinese academics forecast in a report issued in state media on Monday.

The number of years a Chinese child spends in school will almost double to 14 years and an increasingly affluent population will spend a far smaller proportion of their income on food, the official China Daily said, citing a 20-volume report called an Outline for China's Sustainable Development.

But the weighty report, put together by 184 academics and policy makers mainly from the influential Chinese Academy of Sciences, warned a growing population and environmental problems posed risks to China's sustainable development, the Chinese News Service said.

Poor use of energy, social inequality, the country's rural woes and a lack of creativity and innovation were also risks, it added.

The United Nations says current life expectancy in China is around 72 years, compared with around 82 years in Japan. About 200 million people in China live below the poverty line while a child spends, on average, just over eight years in school.

Large swathes of China are affected by chronic air pollution from factories, vehicles and coal-burning power plants. Water and land pollution have poisoned many other parts of the country.

Last month the China Modernisation Report 2007 said that China had failed to make any progress in protecting the environment in the past three years, despite government pledges to put the issue at the top of its agenda.

China ranked 100 out of 118 countries in terms of environmental protection -- the same level as in 2004, the modernization report said.

But it said that by 2015, China's social and economic indicators should be on par with developed countries in the 1960s, by which stage China would have moved from an agrarian economy to an industrial one.

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