The problem of a low life expectancy in the US has been a matter of great discussion- owing to the fact that it is one of the most developed nations in the world. Now, the question stands- why is it so? Why do Americans have such a low life expectancy despite having an expansive and expensive healthcare system? Some of the causes that you might have guessed by now would be the far higher death rate from obesity, drinking, smoking, racial homicides, drug overdose, infant deaths, suicide, and road accidents. But, the root goes much deeper than just accidents and negligence. And this article will delve into that.
The Life Expectancy In the US- Low Beyond Imagination
The life expectancy in the US is definitely an outlier when compared to other developed nations in the world- despite the fact that Americans spend a lot more on health than any other country in the world. But when compared with countries like Norway, Finland, or even Iceland, the life expectancy in the world’s biggest superpower falls short by quite a good margin.
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If one were to look at the graphs and charts that are readily available, one would notice a distinct change in life expectancy as well as the spending on health over the last five decades. The US starts lagging behind in the 1970s when the country didn’t really stand out as an outlier. But it does so now because the life expectancy in other countries increased a lot more slowly than in other countries. Yet, the government expenditure on health increased at a tremendous pace- especially during the mid-1980s.
Why Is The Life Expectancy In the US Such An Outlier?
The unequal development over the last few decades has been the major cause of the inequality between the USA and other rich countries. In the US, the per capita expenditure on health is four times higher than in other developed countries, yet the life expectancy in the US is much lower. Interestingly, the country has managed to gain very substantial progress in health over the last 140 years- though it doesn’t say much about the condition now, it does point towards a rising graph in development.
In 1880, the life expectancy in the country was 39 years, and since then it has seemingly doubled. Unfortunately, the doubling of life expectancy seems to also have touched upon a plateau, as it has stopped increasing since 2014. Where other countries have been making major leaps, the life expectancy in the US falls short of what is expected from a country of its stature.
Some of the reasons the life expectancy in the US is low are extremely easy to discern. Tobacco smoking has been a problem throughout the world- and America is no stranger to it. But fortunately, the peak of deaths via smoking has already been reached, and now the country can breathe freely (no pun intended), as the mortality rate has passed and there should be a steady decline in lung cancer death rates in the country in the next few years.
If we dig beneath the surface, the major reason behind the life expectancy in the US would be the racial and social inequality that still plagues the country. While Americans do have a higher average income than most people in developer countries, the other end of the spectrum is equally bad. The incomes of the poorest Americans are far lower than the incomes of the poorest people in other developed countries. The syllogism is clear- less income would involve a worse standard of living, leading to a high mortality rate.