Christopher Cladwell has written an illuminating article in Financial Times April 26,27th 2008 p 13 discussing the wide expectation of life in the developed world.
Since 1983 life expectancy has declined for women in hundreds of US counties, most of them in the south, and for men in a dozen counties.
. In post-communist Russia men die at about the age of 59, largely related to alcohol. In Namibia the lifespan has dropped 10 years since independence in 1990 due to AIDS.
But since US life expectancy continues its modest rise (from 77.8 years in 2003 to 77.9 in 2004)
Life expectancy fell among poor US men in the early 1960s, for unknown reasons, and in the late 1980s, probably because of Aids and crack cocaine.
Where US healthcare and hygiene work, they are incomparably the best in the world. The 10m healthiest Americans have “one of the highest levels of life expectancy on record -three years better than Japan for females and four years better than Iceland for males”. Asian females in Bergen County, New Jersey, can expect to live an astounding 91 years. But the mortality rates of poor Appalachian whites resemble those of Panama or Mexico.
That is mortality inequality. In 1980 the US rich lived 2,8 years longer than the poor (75.8 versus 73); today they live 4.5 years longer (79.2 versus 74.7).
In Glasgow Scotland men in Glasgow’s pleasant East Dunbartonshire suburbs lived on average to be 81; in Calton, where 60 per cent of residents were unemployed, the life expectancy for men was 54,
Despite the conquest of contagious diseases in the early 20th centur and the reduction in heart-attack deaths in the past four decades.
A recent book by the journalist Bill Bishop, The Big Sort,” shows how like-minded Americans have congregated according to similarities in education, political ideology, wealth and various other attributes.
New Yorkers live longer not because they are doing different things than in 1990 but because they are a different set of people. Certain people have moved in -disproportionately young, employed elites with health insurance, good diet habits and health club memberships. Others have moved out.
Published online by the journal PLoS Medicine: Http:j/medicine, plosjou rnals. orgiperlservi Trequest =mdex-fitml&issn=1549-l676 ** Houghton-Mifflin, $25
- Martin Eastwood