Inequality in Life Spans
By David Henderson
Do you think the government should forcibly reduce income inequality using taxes and subsidies? If so, wouldn’t it follow that the government should forcibly reduce inequality in life spans? No? Then, if you answered Yes to the first question, you might want to rethink your answer. See the article posted today on Econlib by economist Dwight Lee. It’s titled, “Should Government Reduce Inequality in Life Spans?”
When we seriously consider an attempt to use government power to reduce the gender inequality in life expectancy, the problems that we have always faced when government uses its power to reduce income inequality suddenly become crystal clear. Government transfers to reduce the gender gap in life expectancy would do little more than reduce improvements in both women’s and men’s life expectancies. For similar reasons, government transfers have done little more than reduce the income growth of both the rich and the poor. So government attempts to reduce life-expectancy inequality by transferring medical expenditures would be silly, but no sillier than its attempts to reduce income inequality by transferring money.