Saturday, September 15, 2007

Average Life Expectancy Rises

The AP reported September 12, 2007, on the latest life expectancy figures.

The life expectancy for Americans is nearly 78 years, the longest in U.S. history, according to new government figures from 2005 released Thursday.

Not to be caught dwelling on good news, the AP went straight for the bad news after the first sentence.

That age, based on the latest data available, was still lower than the life span in more than three dozen other countries, however.

More bad news: The annual number of U.S. deaths rose from 2004 to a depressing uptick after the figure had dropped by 50,000 from 2003 to 2004. In 2005, the number of deaths increased by about that same amount.

Yes, Americans are living longer, but we shouldn't be happy about it.

The statistics they quoted are the dismal ones:

In the 2005 preliminary report, researchers counted 2,447,910 deaths, up about 2 percent from the 2,397,615 in 2004.

Maybe more of the really old people died. Otherwise, how would they explain how the death count and life expectancy could both go up in the same year?

They gave the statistics showing that heart disease and strokes caused a smaller percentage of deaths than in 2004. And then they followed that by the Big "B":

But the count of cancer deaths rose from about 554,000 to about 559,000, according to the report. (emphasis added)

Of course, they don't tell what the percentage increase of cancer deaths is, although from what they quoted I can see that the increase in cancer deaths accounts for 10% of the total increased deaths. What I can't tell, however, is how significant that percentage is.

My favorite part of the article is the concluding paragraph, where the AP hits home that America is a big Loser of a country.

The United States continues to lag behind at least 40 other nations. Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, has the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore ranked second, third, fourth and fifth.

Four out of the top five are postage-stamp countries, where life is either controlled or homogenous. America, on the other hand, is a country where legal immigrants are welcomed and illegal aliens just show up when they feel like it. And the home countries of some of those newcomers may have lousy life expectancies that end up skewing America's statistics. That's fine. We expect that. People's lives are usually better in America than in the countries they left behind.

But the AP wouldn't be caught dead saying that. Or pointing out that the United States continues to have a life expectancy greater than that of over 200 other nations. That would be news that's too good to share.

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