Fun with life expectancies
By Scott Sumner
The WSJ just reported that life expectancy in the US declined for the third consecutive year in 2017. This is unusual. Life expectancy is now lower than in 2010, when Obamacare was enacted.
In addition, America has one of the lowest life expectancies in the developed world, and the gap is widening between the US on the one hand and Europe/East Asia on the other. Furthermore, in 2009 there were sizable differences among ethnic groups in the US:
So what can we make of all of this? Here are some hypotheses:
1. The big gap between whites and blacks show the savage inequalities in American society.
2. The fact that US life expectancy is lower than in 2010 shows that Obamacare has failed.
3. The relatively low life expectancy in America shows that socialized medicine is better.
4. The fact that 21 million Asian Americans live far longer than residents of any other country, even 3 years longer than the Japanese, shows how great our medical system is, controlling for lifestyle.
5. The falling average American life expectancy in recent years shows the pernicious affect of neoliberal ideologies that have destroyed our working class.
6. The fact that Hispanics live much longer than whites, despite much lower incomes, suggest that inequality in America doesn’t have strong negative effects on health.
I could go on and on. For any ideology, left or right, I can find life expectancy data to prove my point.
What do I actually believe? Only this:
7. Life expectancy data show life expectancies.
And I’m not even 100% sure about that, as the accuracy of the data is sometimes questioned.
PS. No need for commenters to tell me what’s wrong with assertions #1 through #6. I know what’s wrong with each of them. It’s like shooting ducks in a barrel.