I've stumbled on the weird fact, that the life expectancy at birth declined in Libya from 2008 to 2012. Which was a trend that isn't reflected in neighbouring countries. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN?end=2017&locations=LY-MA-DZ-EG-TN&start=1997

This might be somewhat fueled by an increased male mortality in those years. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.AMRT.MA?end=2017&locations=LY-MA-DZ-EG-TN&start=1997

I couldn't really figure out what happened politically during that period to cause this. GDP per capita seems to have grown just until the civil war in 2011.

Thanks for any information or pointing me to any resource!

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    Interesting find, especially considering that falling life expectancies are very untypical anywhere in the world over the last 50 years or so. I will be interested to see whether someone knows a good reason.
    – quarague
    Feb 20, 2020 at 15:24
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    Mismanagement of the economy &c by an insane dictator? You might consider whether it was the factors that caused the decline in life expectancy that also led to Gaddafi' overthrow.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 20, 2020 at 18:31
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    I'm not quite sure if it's plausible that his overthrow and the decline of life expectancy had the same cause. He was in power for 40 years and only in the last years did life-expectancy decline. In the other Arab Spring countries life expectancy increased yet their governments were also overthrown. The Human Development Index was also increasing up to the overthrow, while life expectancy was already decreasing. hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/LBY At the moment I'm thinking it might have something to do about how the data was collected, or something along that line?
    – Tototulbi
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:00
  • U.S and European sanctions perhaps? Gaddafi's downfall was not organic but most likely orchestrated by the CIA. Feb 21, 2020 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


I think I got a very plausible answer to this question from a professor specialising in North Africa.

A lot of young men emigrated from Libya during this time, mainly to Egypt and Tunisia. This shifted the population towards the old, who have a lower life expectancy. And therefore the overall life expectancy of the whole population declined. This is therefore most likely only a statistical effect and nothing must have substantially changed in Libya in terms of health outcomes.

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