Monday, August 31, 2020

Life expectancy in the US

 Michael Hobbes, in an article for HuffPost, discusses American's shorter life expectancy. Given that life expectancy captures overall social, economic, physical, and mental well‐being, such trends paint a troubling portrait of life and death in the United States.

“In 2014,” Hobbes notes, “American life expectancy fell backward for the first time in 21 years. U.S. lifespans slid lower for another three years straight before barely ticking upward in 2018.”

In 2016, life expectancy of American women (81.4 years) was 3.0 years below the female average of high‐income countries and 5.8 years below the leader; life expectancy of American men (76.4 years) was 3.4 years below the male average and 5.2 years below the leader. The fall of the United States to the bottom in international rankings began in the 1980s, first with slower gains in longevity than other countries and then with absolute declines in recent years. Among 22 high‐income countries, the United States fell from thirteenth place in 1980 to the bottom by the early 2000s

The Milbank Quarterly published a study that breaks down the connection between where Americans live and how long they live. It shows that changes in life expectancy during 1970‐2014 were associated with changes in state policies on a conservative‐liberal continuum, where more liberal policies expand economic regulations and protect marginalized groups. States that implemented more conservative policies were more likely to experience a reduction in life expectancy. We estimated that the shallow upward trend in US life expectancy from 2010 to 2014 would have been 25% steeper for women and 13% steeper for men had state policies not changed as they did. We also estimated that US life expectancy would be 2.8 years longer among women and 2.1 years longer among men if all states enjoyed the health advantages of states with more liberal policies.

If West Virginia were a nation, it would be ranked ninety‐third in the world in terms of life expectancy, between Lithuania and Mauritius. In fact, life expectancy in West Virginia falls below several lower‐middle‐income countries, including Honduras, Morocco, Tunisia, and Vietnam.

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