Home > Uncategorized > USA life expectancy vs. health expenditure 1970-2014 compared to other OECD nations

USA life expectancy vs. health expenditure 1970-2014 compared to other OECD nations

from David Ruccio


It is likely, if some version of Trump/Ryancare is approved in the United States, millions more people will not be able to purchase the insurance necessary to receive adequate healthcare.  

The problem is, the United States is already an outlier when it comes to the relationship between health expenditures and health outcomes—measured in this case by life expectancy.

As Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser explain,

all countries in this graph have followed an upward trajectory (life expectancy increased as health expenditure increased), but the U.S. stands out as an exception following a much flatter trajectory; gains in life expectancy from additional health spending in the U.S. were much smaller than in the other high-income countries, particularly since the mid-1980s.


Even more worrisome, higher incomes in the United States are associated with greater longevity, and differences in life expectancy across income groups have increased over time.

As Raj Chetty et al. (pdf) discovered,

Higher income was associated with longer life throughout the income distribution. Men in the bottom 1% of the income distribution at the age of 40 years had an expected age of death of 72.7 years. Men in the top 1% of the income distribution had an expected age of death of 87.3 years, which is 14.6 years (95% CI, 14.4- 14.8 years) longer than those in the bottom 1%. Women in the bottom 1% of the income distribution at the age of 40 years had an expected age of death of 78.8 years. Women in the top 1% had an expected age of death of 88.9 years, which is 10.1 years (95% CI, 9.9-10.3 years) longer than those in the bottom 1%.

As a result, the average life expectancy of the lowest income classes in America is now equal to that in Sudan or Pakistan.

And, with Trump/Ryancare, that class difference in life expectancy is only going to get worse.

  1. March 19, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Life expectancy vs cost can be viewed as a bench mark proxy for relationship with Earth’s physical laws.The farmer who cares for half the field does not prosper. Real economics points to the red ink.

    This is a Frederick Soddy type example; the merit and logic of close tracking between a currency and real costs expressed in kilocalories adds up to good health is a money maker that does not harm Earth. Good health is a quality of life. Yes, life is as short as it always was. The average goes up when everyone is healthy.

    Will future healthy people be grateful enough to maximize education and understanding of Earth’s life support systems? We do not need that answer to proceed in a logical and healthy direction..

    Regarding the actual graph. The size on graphic software is great. Very cool. Light grey is a tad too light. #333333 at 100% sans serif with a 6 that does not look like an 8 font size is good for all ages.

    My guess is Israel and Italy are part of the Mediterranean shade diet cluster. Could three shades of grey add nuance to this graph. Mid range grouping of mid grey. Lower group light grey. Germany, Switzerland and Norway in lighter red that still prints dark. Maybe US in darker red.

    Nice cheap poster.

  2. March 20, 2017 at 8:36 am

    This all revolves around morality. “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” This is Scrooge talking about the options the poor have and ought to have. Prison, the workhouse – Treadmill and Poor Law. Or, death. Dickens is satirizing Herbert Spencer’s “Survival of the Fittest” with these words from Scrooge. But Paul Ryan’s great light, Ayn Rand follows the same path as Spencer. Rand opposed the “entitlement state,” and did so on the moral grounds that the individual has a right to keep the money he earns on a free market. If that’s called harsh, that means it’s “harsh” to earn money and spend it on yourself rather than low-income strangers. But it isn’t harsh for the government to take your money before you’ve had a chance to spend it. Rand called this moral chicanery. Rand make clear in “Atlas Shrugged” that the misery or poverty of others places no moral claim on anyone aside from those others. In simple terms, none of us is our brother’s keeper. Contrary to the Bible, of course. So, both Spencer and Rand were anti-Christian. Or, at least anti-Jesus. So, this shortened life of the poor and the nations with lots of poor people is not just normal but the right thing to do. Neither Ryan nor Trump will say such publicly for fear of populist rebellion of the ignorant poor. But they believe it and will enact policies to carry it out. And then defend these policies with promises of helping the poor. In this sense, I have more respect for Scrooge. He hated the poor and said it straight out. Trump, Ryan, etc. hate the poor but make themselves comfortable by deceiving the poor that better times are coming. One more thing. The poor of the UK of Dickens’ and Spencer’s time hated the rich back and hurt them where they could. Now the poor either withdraw and hide or support the people who are killing them. Plutocrats will always make themselves richer if they can. Spencer and Rand merely provide the cover for such self-aggrandizement, even if acolytes such as Ryan and Trump believe they are on moral high ground.

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