Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Culture of Life (again)

It isn't really new news, Peter Meunnig and colleagues, writing in a forthcoming (November) issue of Social Science and Medicine, have calculated the the difference in life expectancy in the U.S. between the top 20% of income earners, and the rest of us. It's 4.3 years, and that translates into 11 million years of life lost each year by the bottom 80%. (An earlier study found that the top 5% live 25% longer than the bottom 5%.)

They also get into something called Health Adjusted Life Years, which I probably ought to talk about at some point, but it's a little off topic here. Anyhow, us non-rich people are also more likely to become sick or disabled. (I won't go into the bogus quantification of that finding right now.)

The greater longevity and health of the rich pertains everywhere, but the U.S. has more inequality than other wealthy countries, and our inequality has been growing throughout the reign of the current Defenders of Life. We could preserve a hell of a lot more human life by reducing inequality than we can by keeping people without cerebral cortexes "alive" with machinery.

Of course, that's a very un-Christian thing to say.

1 comment:

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