Life Expectancy Declines Seen in U.S. and Other High-Income Countries

Life Expectancy Declines Seen in U.S. and Other High-Income Countries

For years, the trend in modern countries with robust economies and well functioning scientific populations was increasing life expectancy. Research would improve some aspect of the human condition, and the existing healthcare system would put the new technology or discovery into practice, and people would live longer. That is changing though, for a number of reasons, in certain first world nations. Two of the biggest reasons are the continuing epidemic of opioids and the susceptibility of the elderly to the common flu.

Life expectancy is generally tied to a nation’s economic and social fortunes; when the citizens of a nation have access to good healthcare and nutrition, and other basic services, they live longer. Yet data from recent years shows that, for the first time in decades, a number of high income nations saw the life expectancy of their citizens fall instead of rise. Worse, these declines were larger than previous retreats.

Many people forget that the flu is not a meaningless or harmless disease; it can, and does, easily kill those who contract it as their respiratory and cardiovascular systems buckle under the pressure the disease puts on them. And drug abuse, particularly opioid medications that are readily available even though they’re supposed to be controlled substances, is not just addicting citizens. It’s killing them.

Key Points:

  • 1Lower incomes can impact quality of life due to limited resources.
  • 2When people have access to poor healthcare or healthcare that is too expensive, they cannot get the care they need to increase their life.
  • 3The drug epidemic has been hurting young people and contributing to the lower life expectancy.

Life expectancy is a measure of the health and wellbeing of a population. Widespread or sustained declines in life expectancy may signal problems in a nation’s social and economic conditions

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