Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paul Krugman, “Live Free And Die”

“Live Free And Die”
by Paul Krugman

“During the Bush years, every time a new estimate of life expectancy came out I would get letters saying “Hah! You say things are terrible, so how come life expectancy is rising, huh?” This was, of course, stupid: medicine continues to progress, the long-term decline in smoking has reduced lung cancer, etc.. Life expectancy is rising just about everywhere in the world; sharing in that trend is no big achievement.

On the other hand, failing to share in that trend IS a big achievement, in a bad way. And via Kevin Drum, we have this: In lots of place in the United States, women are living shorter lives than they used to: "In 737 U.S. counties out of more than 3,000, life expectancies for women declined between 1997 and 2007. For life expectancy to decline in a developed nation is rare. Setbacks on this scale have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, according to demographers.

"There are just lots of places where things are getting worse," said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which conducted the research. "We're not keeping up." A key finding of the data is that "inequality appears to be growing in the U.S.," said Eileen Crimmins, a gerontologist at USC who also co-chaired the 2011 National Academies panel on life expectancies. "We are different than other countries."
 Click image for larger size.

I guess the geography of the decline speaks for itself.”

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