Thursday, June 03, 2010

International Evidence: Life Expectancy and GDP

The Gapminder graph above (click to enlarge, or access larger version available here) shows some cross-sectional statistical evidence of the strong link between: a) GDP per capita and b) Life Expectancy for countries around the world, to follow my CD post from yesterday about the time series evidence for the U.S.

In the graph above, high-income countries (approximately $20,000 to $50,000 in real, per capita GDP) have life expectancies at birth of about 80 years, which is about 25 years longer than the average life expectancy of about 55 years for the low-income countries (less than $2,000 in per capita GDP). As a rough estimate, a country’s life expectancy at birth increases by about one additional year for every $1,500 increase in real GDP per capita.

See more here at the Enterprise Blog

17 Comments:

At 6/03/2010 1:22 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Thanks for posting this, Mark. I had viewed it elsewhere and wanted to use it to refute the claim this morning about a spurious correlation.

Someone mentioned earlier that more wealth enables more disposable income for medicine and health care. That's part of the reason. More wealth also reduces the likelihood that disasters will cause death. The evidence from Haiti and Chile this year could not be more clear.

 
At 6/03/2010 1:50 PM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

That is a great chart!

It reminds me of a Ben Franklin quote: "Those who would sacrifice long term liberty for short term security deserve neither." I think the modern version would be: Those who sacrifice long term economic growth for "improved health care" get neither.

 
At 6/03/2010 2:04 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Interesting and sad to see South Africa with a low life span and higher GDP -- probably an indication of high AIDS per GDP.

 
At 6/03/2010 2:13 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

correction: high AIDS infection per person.

 
At 6/03/2010 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on here... Something does not make sense at all... Canada has a lower GDP per capita AND a higher life expectancy (by 2.5 years!)

How could this be??? Numbers don't lie.

Oh, I almost forgot, Canada has a universal, single payer healthcare system. That explains it.

Rant on boys! LOL

 
At 6/03/2010 2:17 PM, Blogger Paul said...

These Gap Minder maps are enlightening- this one makes its point as you look at it over time.

 
At 6/03/2010 5:14 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

As has been pointed out more GDP per capita means that more can be spent on sanitation and medical care, and refrigeration. (Sanitation to keep the various water bore illnesses away, why in the old days apple cider and wine were safer, the alcohol kills the bugs). I suspect if you plotted indoor bathrooms against life expectancy you would see a similar trend. (See the book Ghost Map for details on this Broad Street Pump outbreak).

Asimov recognized this in his writings it is the sewer engineer and the water supply engineer that need to be thanked.

 
At 6/03/2010 5:19 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

Those who sacrifice long term economic growth for "improved health care" get neither.

Considering I may not live long enough to see long term economic growth, I'd have toa put the highest probable value on improved short term health car, thank you.

 
At 6/03/2010 7:45 PM, Anonymous Santiago said...

I'm with Anonymous: normalize life expetancy for income percapita and suddenly "banckrupt Europe" far exceeds US life expectacy. How come?: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

 
At 6/03/2010 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless Obamacare magically reduces violent crime deaths and accidental deaths in the US, it's not going to change that differential to Europe or Canada.

 
At 6/03/2010 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:14....so are you saying that the USA is more "violent" or has more "accidents" than other places????? How convenient for you!

Japan, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, Sweden, France, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Austria, Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, U.K. , Germany, Finland, Ireland, Costa Rica, Luxembourg, South Korea, Chile, Denmark, Cuba……......

ALL those countries have a life expectancy GREATER than the USA…and ALL of them have UNIVERSAL health care, in some form or another.

Healthcare is NOT a business, it’s a shared responsibility, ALL industrialized nations get that one…EXCEPT one.

Carry on....and rant on!

 
At 6/03/2010 11:02 PM, Blogger Steponic's Economics said...

I wonder if anyone noticed the (log scale) along the GDP/capita axis. This is a convenient way of compressing that axis so it fits on the graph relative to the smaller, linear scale of the life expectancy.

But it also has the effect of visually amplifying [distorting] the correlation. The log scale makes the slope look steeper, and thereby making the correlation appear stronger than it actually is. If the GDP/capita scale were linear, it would stretch out the graph horizontally, and the line wouldn't look so steep.

This is a great example of "how to lie with statistics".

 
At 6/03/2010 11:39 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

The Gapminder graph here uses the log scale for GDP per capita.

 
At 6/03/2010 11:42 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Also, the correlation between life expectancy and real GDP per capita is .923 vs. the correlation for life expectancy and the log of real GDP per capita is .965, almost the same.

Interestingly, when I don't log one of the variables I get criticized, and then when I do log a variable I still get criticized.

 
At 6/04/2010 8:05 AM, Blogger Steponic's Economics said...

Glad to know there's still a strong correlation both ways. Thanks for clarifying that!

 
At 6/04/2010 8:10 AM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

"Those who sacrifice long term economic growth for "improved health care" get neither.

Considering I may not live long enough to see long term economic growth, I'd have toa put the highest probable value on improved short term health car, thank you." - Hydra

This type of short term thinking is why our foundinng fathers included the phrase: ".. and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" in the preamble to the constitution.

 
At 6/04/2010 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:14....so are you saying that the USA is more "violent" or has more "accidents" than other places????? How convenient for you!



Well, look up the rates and see for yourself instead of just believing some stuff that gets posted.

What's your excuse going to be when Obamacare doesn't improve that stat? You'll be puzzled if you don't know the cause.

 

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