Why do Europeans live longer than Americans?


Demographers looking back – in years – at America’s annual death rates will find an asterisk on the years 2020 and 2021. The text behind that asterisk will give the reason why so many Americans have died in the past. those particular years than the years just before.

The explanation, of course, will be the Covid-19 pandemic.

But these demographers of the future, to truly understand American mortality in the first decades of the 21st century, are going to need another asterisk. They’re going to need an explanation why Americans in those days, before the pandemic struck, lived much shorter lives than their peers elsewhere in the developed world.

How much shorter? A study just published by a global team of 27 social scientists from 13 different developed countries offers up to numbers that will completely surprise most Americans.

In 1990, the new data break down, white Americans had the same average lifespan of 76 years as the general population of England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, the Black Americans lagging behind by seven years. By 2018, black Americans had nearly halved the lifespan gap with their white American counterparts. But those same white Americans were far behind the Europeans. Their lifespan – just before the pandemic – was about less than the European average of the same three years that black Americans followed white Americans.

“White Americans have increasingly lost ground to Europeans,” the new international mortality study concludes, “with substantial gaps in death rates opening up between Europeans and white Americans.”

“Comparisons with Europe”, the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research keep on going, “Suggest that the death rates of black and white Americans could fall much more at all ages and in the richest and poorest areas. “

So what is keeping these death rates in the United States from falling “much more”? Certainly not the money. United States now spend twice as much, per capita, on health care as an average European nation.

How much money different nations spend about health care, in other words, just doesn’t automatically predict their health outcomes. How the nations distribute their money, on the other hand, seems to tell us a lot.


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