According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the life expectancy in the U.S. is shorter than 41 countries including most of Europe and Japan.
Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, comments that "something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries."
What are the likely causes?
- High prevalence of obesity in the U.S.
- Racial disparities
- Relatively high infant mortality rate
- 45 million Americans lack health insurance
The life expectancy ranges from 82.6 years in Japan to 39.2 years in Swaziland - see the map. Many of the countries with the lowest life expectancies, e.g. Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Central African Republic, and Namibia, are suffering from very high rates of HIV/AIDS infection, with adult prevalence rates ranging from 10 to 38 percent (source: Wikipedia).
Life Expectancy Falls In Pockets of U.S. WSJ Health Blog. In the the animation, greener equals longer life expectancy.
A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries http://bit.ly/Ytxx6B
U.S. life span shorter. Associated Press, 08/2007.
List of countries by life expectancy, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
World’s Best Medical Care? NYTimes, 08/2007.
U.S. life expectancy lags behind other countries'. CNN.
Image source: Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License.
How low can you go? Megan McArdle, 08/2007.
Life Expectancy Falls In Pockets of U.S. WSJ Health Blog, 04/2008.