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Dec 13, 2012

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Brad

I understand the need for comparative measurement, but the US often gets hammered when being compared to other countries when there are obvious confounders. For example, perhaps a better comparison would be comparing Nordic Americans to Northern EU countries. Also, what do the rates look like when automobile deaths are controlled for legal age of driving, incidence of DUI automobile death by country, not to mention death due to gun violence. What about controlling for SE class? I know one can poke holes in anything, but just a thought.

Michael W. Kruse

I agree. There are important differences between countries. One issue for the US is the high level of immigration (legal and otherwise). We have large number of people constantly joining our society who have not to-date had the benefits of our society. I think I read not long ago that if you took out homicide by guns, our expectancy ranks at the top.

However, we do have guns. It is part of our cultural make-up. Other countries also have cultural factors that contribute positively or negatively. That is why life-expectancy at birth is such a good measure for capturing the overall well-being of a population. It is a product of so many different factors.

The problem is when life expectancy becomes a prop for someone's policy promotion. Aggregate expectancy numbers don't justify specific policies. Specific cause and effect has to be shown.

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