- July 15, 2021
- 2 min read
As we discussed previously, critics of America’s healthcare system are quick to point at our mediocre life expectancy as proof of the flaws in our system. As is so often the case, even a modest amount of exploration reveals the flaws in that observation. As we will see, we have the world’s highest life expectancy, when confounding factors, such as homicide rates and transportation deaths (primarily vehicular accidents) are taken into account.
Scholars, policymakers, statisticians (and many others who have been donors in successful personality transplants) spend a ton of time asking what, if anything, we can do to reduce the high rate of homicides in the U. S.? Whatever the answer, reforming healthcare is, at best, a modest part of the answer.
When you adjust for non-healthcare issues, such as homicide and traffic fatalities, the American life expectancy picture changes dramatically. And in a good way.
The corrected life expectancy in the U. S. rises to the very top of the list of 36 OECD (economically developed) countries. Again, “We’re number one.” And feel free to brag about it!
The adjusted life expectancy for the U. S. population in the “The Business of Health” is 76.9 years. Switzerland comes in second at 76.6.
Contrary to what you have heard, and what the legacy media routinely report, our healthcare system is delivering the best life expectancy in the world. Hardly a talking point for those who want to throw it all overboard and start with a government-run program.
A disturbing side note in this study reveals a future topic for discussion. Homicide data provides insight into the shorter life expectancies of blacks in America. The homicide rate for American whites is 3.2 per 1,000. For American blacks it is 26.1 per 1,000! That is eight times higher than whites.
Also, it is usually black people killing black people. This is especially true in urban areas, where you find the highest homicide rates. What can be done about it? More importantly, is anyone in a position of authority even asking the right questions?
Black homicide data inform a broader discussion of the myriad factors that show disparities among groups of citizens of various races, backgrounds, religions, and more. Looking at these factors through an unbiased, objective lens is the most effective way to reach useful conclusions. We will be doing more of that in the months ahead.
In future posts, we will be taking a deep dive into the economic and statistical foundations of public policy issues. It is difficult to solve a problem unless you understand it in objective terms. Too many people gravitate naturally to the answer that fits their preconceived notion. Everyone likes to be told “you’re right,” but basing policy decisions on our own prejudices is not constructive.
Sadly, public policy decisions are not always made based on sound data. And much of what we are told is true simply does not hold up under examination. We will see just how often in weeks to come.