life expectancy


Visualizing health in the Arab world | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Mohamed Bouazizi
Mohamed Bouazizi

In Tunisia in December 2010, a poor, unemployed college graduate named Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself aflame after the contents of his fruit stand were confiscated by police because he was operating without a license. Bouazizi’s frustration about his inability to earn a living struck a chord with many other young people in the country, prompting mass protests against a government many viewed as guilty of keeping people in poverty.

Thus began the so-called Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of anti-government protests that spread from Tunisia to neighboring countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Most of the protesters were similarly motivated by frustration with oppressive governments perceived as indifferent to the suffering and inequity experienced by most citizens.

The protests continue, having in many cases exploded into deadly clashes and outright civil war. Many of those in the conflict are unemployed young people like Bouazizi who have taken to the streets – or even taken up arms – to demand a better life. It’s worth noting that 77% of the Arab world is under age 40.

What did the health landscape look like in these countries leading up to the uprisings? To answer this question, we’ll use data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and a recently-published study on health in the Arab world. Continue reading

Measuring health progress in Afghanistan | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

In an Atlantic article last week, Justin Sandefur, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote about how US foreign aid for health to the government of Afghanistan is currently under threat due to scrutiny from auditors. Read Here’s the Best Thing the U.S. has Done in Afghanistan

Sandefur argues that US funds channeled to the Afghan government have played a major role in driving down child mortality in the country, and that these achievements could be jeopardized if the US cuts this funding as a result of auditors’ concerns.

How much progress has Afghanistan made in improving child health over time? According to estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2010, mortality rates in children under five in Afghanistan fell 48% between 1990 and 2010 (download the data here). Life expectancy at birth increased from 51.7 in 1990 to 57.3 in 2010 for females and 52.2 to 58.2 for males (below is the screen grab based on the data).

Chart: Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in Afghanistan, females, 1990-2010

Afghanistan Life Expectancy1

You can also view life expectancy estimates for Afghan females and males in our online tool and compare the country’s progress to that of other nations. Continue reading

Global health metrics applied to US life expectancy by location | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

This blog is primarily devoted to health and development issues in poor countries, but global health is global. So today we focus on the country with the highest health spending in the world, the United States.

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that some counties in the US have life expectancies that resemble countries with much fewer resources. For example, in McDowell County, West Virginia, male life expectancy (64 years) is lower than life expectancy in Bangladesh while females in Sunflower County, Mississippi have a life expectancy (74 years) that is lower than females in Algeria.

Note: Recreate this map by choosing the following options from the drop down menus: “Life expectancy” from “Display,” “Male” from “Sex,” “McDowell County” from “Find county,” and “2010” from “Year.”

In contrast, counties with the highest life expectancies in the US, such as Fairfax County, Virginia for males (82) and Marin County, California for females (85 years), are greater or equal to countries with the highest life expectancies in the world, such as Switzerland and Japan for males and Spain and France for females. Go to this link of live data visualization tool highlighting counties with the lowest male and highest female life expectancies.

In addition to finding massive disparities in life expectancy at the county level, IHME researchers found the gap between counties with the highest life expectancies and lowest life expectancies has widened over time. In 1985, the gap was nine years for females and nearly 12 years for males, but increased to 12 and 18 years, respectively, in 2010. Continue reading

IHME study: Many girls in U.S. will have shorter lives than their mothers | 

In this screen grab from the IHME website, you can see some lifespan comparisons of women in 2009. Go to the Institute’s website to interact with this and other graphics to learn more.

By Claudia Rowe, special correspondent

Despite living in a country with one of the best health-care systems in the world, thousands of American girls will have shorter lives than their mothers, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

In 661 areas of the country life expectancy for women has stagnated or decreased since 1999.

“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, who lead the team of researchers evaluating American health and mortality trends across the country.

Nationwide, they found a range of life-spans is so broad that in some areas, such as Stearns, Minn., life expectancies rivaled those in Japan, Hong Kong, and France – which are among the longest on earth.

But elsewhere, particularly in the rural south, average life-spans were lower than in Egypt, Indonesia, and Colombia, countries that spend far less on health care than the U.S.

Continue reading

US continues to fall behind other nations on life expectancy | 

Based on a county-by-county analysis of health data across the United States, Seattle researchers report that Americans’ life expectancy in general is falling behind that of most other wealthy nations.

“Despite the fact that the US spends more per capita than any other nation on health, eight out of every 10 counties are not keeping pace in terms of health outcomes,” said Chris Murray, director of the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and a co-author of the study. “That’s a staggering statistic.”

Women did worse, in some parts of the nation faring about as well as in a developing country. Here is a map the researchers created showing changes in life expectancy for women between 1987-2007, with a concentrated decline in the southeastern U.S. states:


Changes in life expectancy for women in U.S., 1987-2007

The researchers say that the relatively low life expectancies in the US cannot be explained by the size of the nation, racial diversity, or economics. Instead, the authors point to high rates of obesity, tobacco use, and other preventable risk factors for an early death as the leading drivers of the gap between the US and other nations.

The Seattle Times’ Carol Ostrom looked at the data for Washington state, noting that some counties even in this relatively affluent corner of the country fare pretty poorly. She quotes IHME’s Ali Mokdad saying: “It’s a wake-up call for all of us.”

Well, one can hope.

This isn’t the first time health or development data has shown the U.S. scores about as well as a middle-income country. See this post on “Third World America.” The IHME also had a similar study out earlier.

Here are a few more stories on this report:

U.S. News and World Report: U.S found to be losing ground in life expectancy

CNN: Life expectancy in U.S. trails other nations

LA Times: Life expectancy for U.S. women slips in some regions