By Ryan McMaken
This week, the OECD released new life-expectancy figures for member countries.
The life expectancy at birth in the US is 79 years, according to the OECD’s 2015 edition of its Better Life Index. For the OECD overall, the life expectancy is 80 years. Here are all OECD states (plus non-OECD countries Russia and Brazil) compared:
These findings are quite similar to the World Health Organization’s own published life expectancy numbers. Worldwide, life expectancy at birth generally ranges from the low 60s (in African and Middle Eastern countries) to 83 or 84 years in Japan (depending on the measure). Only a smattering of African countries have a life expectancy below 60.
We can see that the US comes in at 79, which is slightly below Denmark at 80 years, and three or more years below Japan (83 years), Switzerland (83 years), Spain (83 years) and Italy (82 years).
What is the cause of the disparity between the US and so many European countries?
The media narrative on this, encouraged by the OECD report, was predictable:
Several factors account for the poor and declining life expectancy in the US, the report said, starting with its weak public health sector and the millions of Americans who remain uninsured.