[ExI] Life expectancy reaches all-time high in U.S.

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Aug 21 16:21:00 UTC 2009

On 8/21/09, Max More wrote:
>  Why do you expect a worsening for the next few years in particular? Is the
> economic downturn really having that much of an effect on the longevity
> numbers? (I'm not saying it's not true; I just haven't seen evidence for it
> and would be (un)happy to be directed to it.)

Sorry, to me that was obvious.  There's no 'evidence' as it hasn't
happened yet, but that's what happened in previous recessions in the


Dr. Harvey Brenner, a public health and behavioral sciences professor
at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, shared the
correlation among mortality, unemployment and reduced spending on
health care with members of the D-FW Health Industry Council at a
luncheon Wednesday in Las Colinas.

Brenner said socioeconomic status is the largest determinant of health
and mortality. "It's not an act of God, it's an act of the
unemployment rate," Brenner said.

In recessions in the early 1970s and 1980s, Brenner was commissioned
to do studies linking the economy and mortality rates for Congress.
He's also researched the topic for the executive branch of the
European Union.

Brenner said he won't know the current recession's impact on death
rates for at least two years after it's over. However, by using
multivariable regression models measuring Americans' increased fat,
carbohydrate and tobacco consumption rates, Brenner has early
indicators that this recession may cut deeper than previous ones.

"In the past, we saw people die within 10 years after their job loss,"
Brenner said. "Now we're seeing them die as early as the same year."
End quote.

It's not an instant effect as it takes time for people to get sick,
then find that they can't afford medical bills. In the US when you
become unemployed you often lose your company health insurance as
well. This doesn't happen in countries with a national health service.

Health care and medical care are both included in NHS schemes. For
example, people can visit their local doctor for advice on things like
healthy eating or help to stop smoking, etc. It's not compulsory, of
course. You can't make people stop smoking, though high tax helps. ;)

Life styles are definitely important. Being poor is often associated
with a lack of 'smarts' and / or education, and they may just not
realise the self-inflicted damage they are doing to themselves.

I don't think I'm disagreeing with much that you wrote, just looking
at from another angle.  And being more pessimistic, as is my wont.


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