U.S. Life Expectancy: We’re Number 1
Tyler Cowen passes along a reader comment that,
The difference in life expectancy between the US and Netherlands is often referred to as an example of how superior semi-socialized health care increases life expectancy. At birth, someone living in the Netherlands can expect to live 2.35 years longer than someone born in the US, but at age 65, the difference is reversed, and someone living in the US can expect to live 0.4 years longer than someone living in the Netherlands. This difference can be explained by assuming that semi-socialized health care is better for young and worse for old people, or, at least as likely, different policies are not the main cause of the difference.
Cowen merely observes that, “One interesting feature of this data is that it can be used to argue for a number of different points of view.”
His readers immediately pounce to point out that, at age 65, Americans in fact have semi-socialized medicine. Indeed, the Medicaid system is arguably less semi and more socialized than that in the Netherlands.
Moreover, health care isn’t the only factor in life expectancy since all manner of things can kill you: crime, war, accident, diet and exercise behavior, etc. And, sure enough, a commenter points to an interesting post over at “slightly left of center” Angry Bear this morning pointing out that, when we control for traffic fatalities and homicides, “The US jumps from 15th on the list with a life expectancy of 75.3 to 1st with a life expectancy of 76.9.”