Gap in life expectancy in U.S. growing

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Gap in life expectancy in U.S. growing

By Robert Pear
Published: March 23, 2008

WASHINGTON: New government research has found "large and growing" disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the past two decades.

Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and that, in turn, has caused a widening gap.

One of the researchers, Gopal Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services, said "the growing inequalities in life expectancy" mirrored trends in infant mortality and in death from heart disease and certain cancers. Singh said last week that federal officials had found "widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy" at birth and at every age level.

He and another researcher, Mohammad Siahpush, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, developed an index to measure social and economic conditions in every county, using census data on education, income, poverty, housing and other factors. Counties were then classified into 10 groups of equal population size.

In 1980-1982, Singh said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years) and it continues to grow, he said.
I especially like this part:
The difference between poor black men and affluent white women was more than 14 years (66.9 years versus 81.1 years).
& lastly, universal health care would probably reverse the trend:
Lower-income people are less likely to have health insurance, so they are less likely to receive checkups, screenings, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and other types of care.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/23/america/health.php
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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So.... life expectancy is increasing across all income groups. Good news!
 
  • #3
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Russ, I like your optimism. I don't think it is always justified but someone has to stick up for the bright side.
 
  • #4
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So.... life expectancy is increasing across all income groups. Good news!
Uh huh. Just like you can tell a homeless person that at least he has some cardboard to cover himself with. 100 years ago, he wouldn't have had any cardboard!

If you wanted to go by "well it's still better than it was before" then I could easily go to your house and enslave you and claim that since I didn't rape your wife, you had it better than 2000 years ago, so it's legal.

You aren't dealing with absolute numbers here, but relative numbers. Uprisings don't start because everybody is prospering, they start because the rich are getting much richer than the poor. At the expense of the poor.
 
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  • #5
Everything looks brighter under a conservative perspective, that's why they live longer, it's not the money, the environmental factors or access to better healthcare, it's the glass half full attitude. :smile:
 
  • #6
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Uprisings don't start because everybody is prospering, they start because the rich are getting much richer than the poor. At the expense of the poor.

Don't be an ass.
Since this was about longevity, not salary, are you arguing that the rich are somehow living longer at the expense of the poor? If so, could you explain how that's coming about?

Also, would you think it would be an improvement to go back to the situation 20 years ago, where both rich and poor lived less long, but the gap was smaller?
 
  • #7
Since this was about longevity, not salary, are you arguing that the rich are somehow living longer at the expense of the poor? If so, could you explain how that's coming about?

Also, would you think it would be an improvement to go back to the situation 20 years ago, where both rich and poor lived less long, but the gap was smaller?
The lack of healthcare for 1/6th of the US population that means they only get treated for life threatening illnesses, crime, poverty, drug abuse amongst the poor. Lack of quality education exacerbating their social problems. If you compare the US life expectancy to Europe, yours is terrible, really terrible.
 
  • #8
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The lack of healthcare for 1/6th of the US population that means they only get treated for life threatening illnesses, crime, poverty, drug abuse amongst the poor.
Evidence for this? It's a good story, but it's not what Singh and Siahpush show. If this were the case, there would be a clear separation between the bottom 1/6 and top 5/6, and there isn't. Between the 1st and 2nd decile, you have 24% of the difference between 1st and 10th. Between the 1st and 3rd, you have 31%.

Lack of quality education exacerbating their social problems. If you compare the US life expectancy to Europe, yours is terrible, really terrible.
Mine? What evidence do you have that I am a US Citizen?

Singh and Siahpush don't discuss Europe, but they do discuss Canada. Canada has a 3.3 year difference in average lifespan between their 1st and 5th quintiles; the equivalent US number is (assuming I calculated this right; the authors don't make such a comparison easy) 3.1.

You didn't answer my question - would it be better to return to the conditions of 1980's, where there was more lifespan equity, but it was smaller in all groups?
 
  • #9
Evidence for this? It's a good story, but it's not what Singh and Siahpush show. If this were the case, there would be a clear separation between the bottom 1/6 and top 5/6, and there isn't. Between the 1st and 2nd decile, you have 24% of the difference between 1st and 10th. Between the 1st and 3rd, you have 31%.



Mine? What evidence do you have that I am a US Citizen?

Singh and Siahpush don't discuss Europe, but they do discuss Canada. Canada has a 3.3 year difference in average lifespan between their 1st and 5th quintiles; the equivalent US number is (assuming I calculated this right; the authors don't make such a comparison easy) 3.1.

You didn't answer my question - would it be better to return to the conditions of 1980's, where there was more lifespan equity, but it was smaller in all groups?
You haven't been paying attention lately all that evidence is in the WHO report on health care providers. Every part of it. I'll link it if you like? Or you could just find a thread on free health care/universal health care.

Are you seriously telling me though that the US social mobility is better than in Europe, because you'd be dead wrong. I think the burden on you is to prove that. And why compare to Canada anyway? Who cares? When you have one of the lowest social mobilities in the advanced Western world, why look at the bottom runners.

I didn't ask the question because it is not the case, in Europe, so there's no point.
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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Uh huh. Just like you can tell a homeless person that at least he has some cardboard to cover himself with. 100 years ago, he wouldn't have had any cardboard!

If you wanted to go by "well it's still better than it was before" then I could easily go to your house and enslave you and claim that since I didn't rape your wife, you had it better than 2000 years ago, so it's legal.
Huh? Should I point out the fallacy of comparing a 2000 year old disparity with a 20 year old disparity, or is that too obvious?
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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You didn't answer my question - would it be better to return to the conditions of 1980's, where there was more lifespan equity, but it was smaller in all groups?
I think this question is worthy of an answer.

And I'll broaden it: are people so greedy that they would rather be poorer than see someone get richer faster than they? Maybe they are, but is it right to be that greedy?
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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If you compare the US life expectancy to Europe, yours is terrible, really terrible.
Yes, could you give us the comparison, please? I'd like to see just how "terrible" it is.

Ahh, too easy. Here's a chart: http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa042000b.htm

It isn't ranked, it is alphabetical, so the easiest comparison is between the US and the UK:

United Kingdom 77.7 77.2
United States 77.1 76.1

That disparity is what you consider "terrible"?

Considering the obstacle that we've had to overcome to get where we are today (slavery), I'd say we're doing pretty damn good.
 
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  • #13
I think this question is worthy of an answer.

And I'll broaden it: are people so greedy that they would rather be poorer than see someone get richer faster than they? Maybe they are, but is it right to be that greedy?
I'd rather be poorer than see people poorer than me being held back by poverty. But then I don't live in the US, so I don't have the same mentality as some people.
 
  • #14
russ_watters
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I'd rather be poorer than see people poorer than me being held back by poverty.
That doesn't make any sense. Could you explain it further, please?

It also doesn't answer the question -- though it does imply that you would prefer the poor to have a lower life expectancy and the rich to have a much lower life expectancy.
 
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  • #15
russ_watters
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I know it's a wik, but I was looking for historical data for other countries and found this:
In France, significant differences in life expectancy between different racial and ethnic groups have persisted, though they have lessened somewhat. Poverty, in particular, has a very substantial effect on life expectancy. In the United Kingdom life expectancy in the wealthiest areas is ten years longer than the poorest areas and the gap appears to be increasing as life expectancy for the prosperous continues to increase while in more deprived communities there is little increase.[16]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

We've apparently let an implied claim slide: the implication that European countries do not have such a disparity. It would appear that the "problem" is not unique to the US.

Here's the actual study for the UK: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4117696 [Broken]

Their baseline is only ~8 years, but they note the same "problem" (and they consider it a problem).

I'll reiterate my previous implied position: the increasing gap is a result of the rubber-band theory of economics (that's my analogy, by the way). By pulling on one end of the rubber band, you pull the entire rubber band. The result is an improvement for everyone, but an increasing gap. This is a natural result of economic prosperity and not something to be "fixed", as attempting to "fix" it will interfere with the prosperity growth for everyone.
 
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  • #16
That doesn't make any sense. Could you explain it further, please?

It also doesn't answer the question -- though it does imply that you would prefer the poor to have a lower life expectancy and the rich to have a much lower life expectancy.
It said the opposite of that. It said I'd like more people to have a life expectancy in line with the best countries in Europe. Not an elite few. But then I pretty much think that is an anathema to you from the gist of your posts so far?

Europe has higher average life expectancy than in the US, I'm not interested in playing which tiny minority gets to live longer than which other. The US situation is dire IMO.
 
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  • #17
russ_watters
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Expanding on the concept of inequality, there is a great video clip somewhere around here of a rogue economist (Sweedish, I think) giving a speech and showing an animation of China's income equality. That's where I got the rubber band idea. It shows graphically and with utter clarity how economic prosperity creates inequality while simultaneously lifting billions out of extreme poverty. Great animation notwithstanding, here's some of the raw data: http://www.gwu.edu/~econ270/Taejoon.html#1. Analyzing the widening gap
 
  • #18
russ_watters
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It said the opposite of that. It said I'd like more people to have a life expectancy in line with the best countries in Europe. Not an elite few.
So you are refusing to answer the question, then? Socioeconomic status doesn't magically just jump from one plateau to another. It has to progress there. What you suggest is pure fantasy.
Europe has higher average life expectancy than in the US, I'm not interested in playing which tiny minority gets to live longer than which other. The US situation is dire IMO.
You're saying that a gap of 1 year between England and the US is a "dire situation"? Are you for real?

Wait, what is "dire" about the situation - the gap or the fact that the US's average life expectancy is 1 year less than Englands (for example)?
 
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  • #19
So you are refusing to answer the question, then? Socioeconomic status doesn't magically just jump from one plateau to another. It has to progress there. What you suggest is pure fantasy. You're saying that a gap of 1 year between England and the US is a "dire" situation? Are you for real?
No I think I'm saying that America is a terrible place to live if you want to experience equality of wealth in any sort of time frame. And that if you want the American dream I'd move to Europe. That's what I'm saying, because social mobility in the US just plain sucks, and your health isn't going to be much better off. And education also just doesn't measure up to European countries, except at University.

Basically if you want more people to do well, not elitism, then don't look at the US as an example, look at say Japan, or Germany, or somewhere else.

But this is due to having an almost antithetical view of politics from each other I think.
 
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  • #20
russ_watters
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Here is an interesting quick article that points to the homicide rate as being the largest factor in the gap in the US - which is why the gap decreased substantially from 1993 to 2003:
The Black-White Life Expectancy Gap 1993-2003 – Men
The shrinkage in the gap in life expectancy between black and white men was large from 1993-2003. The gap decreased 25% (from a gap of 8.44 years in 1993 to a gap of 6.33 years in 2003). Nearly all of this gap was caused by an improvement in the life expectancy of young black men (ages 15-49), which resulted in a 2 year reduction of the gap. This gap was seen in a reduction of homicide (-0.6 years), HIV deaths (-0.6 years) and injuries (-0.3 years).
http://longevity.about.com/od/longevitystatsandnumbers/a/black_white_gap.htm
 
  • #21
russ_watters
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No I think I'm saying that America is a terrible place to live if you want to experience equality of wealth in any sort of time frame.
Fair enough. I think most Americans would agree that the US is not a place for those who don't want the freedom to prosper on their own. And it is not a place to live if the prosperity of others causes you envy. The existence of Bill Gates does not give me any pain, despite how much richer he is than me. I like that I'm free to succeed on my own and think it is cool that he's been able to do what he has. Freedom and forced redistribution of wealth contradict each other.

The rest of your post is just your typical random anti-US ranting. It has nothing to do with this thread. I'm glad you like your country better than the US. You should! Otherwise, you should move! And I really don't care. The age of nationalism is over. You don't need to prove anything (unless you need to prove it to yourself due to some insecurity).

And now you are completely ignoring the statistics and information that show this entire thread is just a farce. The idea that there is a life expectancy gap problem in the US that is unique to the US is a myth (created here!).
 
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  • #22
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You're saying that a gap of 1 year between England and the US is a "dire situation"?
It's interesting that a year gap between the US and the UK is dire, but not the year gap between the UK and France or the 1 year gap between France and Switzerland.

If one is going to interpret effects that are this small, one probably has to do a demographic adjustment for the countries in question. The odds of living to 80 given that you have already lived to 60 are different than the odds of living to 80 given that you have already lived to 20. I don't know if this serves to expand or compress the effect being discussed.
 
  • #23
Evo
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As I've said before, you have to adjust for infant mortality. When you look at life expectancy after the age of one, the US is among the highest.

https://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/333/18/1232?ck=nck

While the United States reports every case of infant mortality, many other countries do not. For example, a 2006 artilce in U.S. News & World Report states, "First, it's shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don't reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country." [2]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_mortality
 
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  • #24
Gokul43201
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Since this was about longevity, not salary, are you arguing that the rich are somehow living longer at the expense of the poor? If so, could you explain how that's coming about?
A hand wavy, plausibility argument for the converse: In the short term (t ~ few years) the total resources available towards health care is roughly a conserved quantity. If some of the resources used by the wealthy are diverted to the poor, this will result in a decrease in LE for the rich and an increase in LE for the poor. In fact, one could argue further that, due to diminishing returns, so long as the amount of resources forcibly diverted still left the wealthier folk healthier, the increase in LE gained by the poor would exceed the decrease in LE felt by the rich.

Now this is not to say that the converse has indeed occurred, but merely to argue that a different form of resource allocation could result in greater longevity for the poor at the expense of the rich. I'm also not arguing for the morality behind such an allocation.


Also, would you think it would be an improvement to go back to the situation 20 years ago, where both rich and poor lived less long, but the gap was smaller?
I don't. But I also don't see the point of this question. Is anyone talking about going back to the days of poorer health? I think people are suggesting that governments should find it in their interests to look out for the interests of the lowest classes, and that this can be achieved by some redistribution scheme that does not result in a downward trend in LE with time.

I think this question is worthy of an answer.

And I'll broaden it: are people so greedy that they would rather be poorer than see someone get richer faster than they? Maybe they are, but is it right to be that greedy?
Again, this is the same irrelevant proposition. No one wants the poor to die faster than they were yesterday.
 
  • #25
Fair enough. I think most Americans would agree that the US is not a place for those who don't want the freedom to prosper on their own. And it is not a place to live if the prosperity of others causes you envy. The existence of Bill Gates does not give me any pain, despite how much richer he is than me. I like that I'm free to succeed on my own and think it is cool that he's been able to do what he has. Freedom and forced redistribution of wealth contradict each other.

The rest of your post is just your typical random anti-US ranting. It has nothing to do with this thread. I'm glad you like your country better than the US. You should! Otherwise, you should move! And I really don't care. The age of nationalism is over. You don't need to prove anything (unless you need to prove it to yourself due to some insecurity).

And now you are completely ignoring the statistics and information that show this entire thread is just a farce. The idea that there is a life expectancy gap problem in the US that is unique to the US is a myth (created here!).
You mean where greed is the most important virtue in your nation, where people judge others based on their income and what they have, not what they are. Yeah thanks but no thanks. If I had to listen to people like you go on about how great your country is because of how much money you can make, I'd quickly I think move somewhere which wasn't obsessed with wealth. Hehe seriously, I know not everyone is, but the justification for anything, pretty much boils down to money in your eyes. I can't stand that as a political ideal, it makes me feel sick. The US is sliding ever more close to an elitocracy. It's sad really. Get a decent president not a muppet.

As for your life expectancies they are lower, your health service is rubbish and you social mobility sucks. That say it all really. The wealthiest nation in the world means nothing to me when 50% of your wealth is in the hands of a tiny percentage of your population, it's a lousy system you have, that's I think another reason why Europeans dislike American ideals. Their ideals are all out of whack with what decent human beings think.
 

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