Life Expectancy in the U.S.: Race to the Bottom

Emily Oster’s graph of the year: Why is the U.S. falling behind in life expectancy?

life expectancy chart

Amidst all the focus on health insurance, I think it’s crucial not to lose focus on the fact that — insurance or not — the United States is lagging behind in health status. This chart — from a broader report — demonstrates not only how low our life expectancy is relative to other developed countries, but also how far we have fallen even in the last 30 years. Why are we not realizing the same gains that countries with comparable incomes are?

Emily Oster is an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School. Her book is “Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong.”

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