Life Expectancy Inequality

This is from a Bloomberg column by Peter Orszag:

Among 50-year-old men, for example, those in the highest education group are now projected to live almost six years longer on average than those in the lowest education group — and this differential has been rising sharply. The widening gap in life expectancy is also evident geographically. In 2007, men living in the American counties with the greatest average longevity could expect to live more than 15 years longer than men in the lowest- ranked ones. In 1987, that gap was less than 12 years. Sadly, life expectancy in some counties actually declined over that period.

Questions for the reader:

  1. Do you care about this widening gap?  Should government do something to try and narrow it?
  2. Do you care about the men/women life expectancy gap (currently: 5 years) Should government do something about that?

Exercise for the reader: Show why the gap strengthens the case for privatizing Social Security and Medicare.

See our previous post. HT to David Henderson.

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Barnett says:

    If I go back to college, move to the county with the highest average longevity or have gender reassignment surgery, will it increase my longevity?

  2. Greg says:

    Why should we care? It’s not obvious that there is a social problem here. Some people can run faster than others. Should I care about that?

  3. Vicki says:

    I don’t know if I care. I definitely don’t want the government to care.

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    These inequalities are considered a failure of public health even though the causes are largely the result of the actions of private individuals. By most accounts, healthy behaviors are correlated with income and intelligence. There are also theories that good health is the result of good genetics, which may also boost income and intelligence.

  5. Bruce says:

    I don’t care about differences in life expectancy any more than I care about differences in running speeds.

  6. Kennedy says:

    I really don’t care about life expectancy differences, and I certainly don’t want to see the government trying to do something about such differences.

  7. Buster says:


    In addition to going back to college, moving to Utah, and having gender reassignment surgery, you should also consider changing your ethnicity to Asian.

  8. Linda Gorman says:

    Are these differential life-expectancy estimates corrected for group homicide differentials between the ages of 15 and 35?

    If not, the gap says nothing about the effects of Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. It does say a lot about the effects of broken families, dysfunctional welfare programs, lousy schools, poor policing, and irrational labor laws.

  9. Lowther says:

    the only role that gov’t should play in ANYONE’S life is to allow for equal opportunity – ie, level the playing field. OUTCOMES are to remain the result of personal choice – ie, liberty. spending time and resources ATTEMPTING to level RESULTS is both futile and expensive. and by necessity, it requires the theft of one person’s liberty to influence another’s outcome. by their very design, these approaches are both unconstitutional and immoral.

  10. Seamus Muldoon says:

    The secret to longevity? Give up drinking, smoking, active sports, travel, vigorous sex and rich foods. It won’t actually prolong your life, it will just seem that way.

    Happy July 4th all!

  11. Carolyn Needham says:

    It’s always dangerous when the government gets involved in matters of life and death.

  12. treatment for fibromyalgia says:

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Habit the Rabit says:

    Is this really that shocking? We know the difference from a psychology perspective that more education one has, the more exposure to information regarding healthier living habits. It is Darwins survival of the fittest, and i’m not saying that because I’m the fittest, but because government on an international level is not unified to meet the nutritional requirements of everyone. As education relates to gender, income, age, and every other variable to what color hair you have, get an education, be in debt, but be healthy and live long enough to pay it off.

  14. Plumber Upper Stondon says:

    I will immediately seize your rss as I can not to find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me understand so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.