Are Health Outcomes Becoming More Equal?

The haves are those who enjoy great health into their 90s. The have-nots are those who suffer from serious health problems and do not live to see adulthood. As we pointed out in a recent study, among those Americans who were born in 1975, the unluckiest 1 percent died in infancy, while the luckiest 1 percent can expect to live to age 105 or longer. Now let’s fast forward to those born in 2012. The bottom percentile of this cohort can expect to survive until age 18. At the other end of the spectrum, the luckiest 1 percent can expect to live to age 108. That’s a much bigger gain in life expectancy among the have-nots than among the haves. Of course, life expectancy is but one measure of health and well-being, but understanding these trends offers a more complete picture than considering income alone.

The American. HT: Tyler Cowen.

Comments (10)

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  1. Vladamir Viatopolkovsky says:

    Neonatal care has improved drastically over this time period and modern medicine is better at preventing a variety of conditions, diseases etc…Living itself, for more than 100 years, is rough on the body. I believe that there has been such a small increase in the top percentile because we’re simply only meant to live for so long. Only when we create medicines and techniques that truly defy the aging process will more people live decades into their hundreds.

  2. Sandeep says:

    Those gains in health for the have-not can be attributed to better public health awareness and public health programs that target those individuals who live in the lower income areas.

  3. Desai says:

    I think vaccination and better public health programs are a contributing factor towards these gains in health from the have-not crowd.

  4. Peterson says:

    I think advances in technology could be a huge reason why people in the lowest 1% live longer. Also, awareness could be a contributing factor.

  5. Abraham says:

    I’ve come to the realization that health and well-being play a more important role in someone’s life expectancy than income itself. These days, the system is so controlled by the authorities that even the wealthy receive poor care when they need it. There is no guarantee you will receive care, whether you have money or not. A higher income certainly brings some sort of relief, but it’s not the solution anymore.

  6. Jack says:

    The cohort says that, even adjusting for infant mortality, inequality has been on the decrease for over a hundred years.


  7. Jordan says:

    They substituted period life expectancy for cohort life expectancy. This is a fairly massive, but common problem with this type of study. It does tend to skew the data by not adjusting life expectancy for variables.

  8. Amy Jones says:

    Health inequality has increased across certain demographic groups, but it has decreased across the entire population? How do you explain this? I’m having a hard time understanding this.

  9. Bernard Wolsh says:

    As the subheadline reads “When considering trends in equality, income is important, but health is arguably a prerequisite for all other measures of well-being.” This is right on point! I think. Income certainly plays a very important role on people’s well-being. However, just because you have a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a healthy individual. That goes to show how important it is to give everyone the same opportunity to receive care.

  10. Sarah V. says:

    What’s the correlation between the variations across socio-economic groups regarding their incomes and their health disparities?