Friday, May 20, 2005

Health of the Nations

The health of the nations is compared and contrasted in yesterday's Le Monde. Life expectancy in the U.S. is a few years lower than it is in Japan, Canada, and Europe; yet Americans spend more than twice as much on medical care. Health is tied to social cohesion and to cultural practices, for examples:

  • eating alone while watching TV tends to result in obesity and multiple health problems
  • different rates of violence in different nations, the U.S. being very high on violence
  • lack of a national health insurance coverage
  • the socio-economic distance between classes, where the U.S. is grotesque.

Excerpt of interest below from "Social Cohesion and Life Expectancy" by Jean de Kervasdoué:

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" American sociologist Philip Slater indicated in 1970 that the pursuit of solitude had already become the distinguishing feature of American society. This solitude is expressed in eating behaviors. More often than in Europe, Americans of every age eat alone, at any time, any sort of food, to the rapid rhythm of television ads that teach them what they must ingest. Food is not the only cause for the United States' bad indicators: a young black man living in New York has the same life expectancy as a Sri-Lankan. American society is a violent society where, proportionally, there are eight times as many people incarcerated as in France, where wounds and deaths by firearms or slashing are frequent, which leaves its mark on life expectancy statistics.

Finally, at any given moment, 43 million Americans - or about 20% of the population - do not have any health insurance or other social coverage. This figure hides an even greater level of insecurity since, over any two year period, close to 40% of the population at one time or another over the two years will not have any health insurance. The most powerful, the richest, the most medicalized nation on earth is not the one - far from it - where people live the longest.

The political and social system leave their mark: the Canadian neighbor, also a great country of immigration, enjoys a life expectancy at birth that puts it among the premier countries in the world (79.7 years in 2001, more than France the same year). It enjoys a universal healthcare system.

The countries that offer their populations the longest life expectancies at birth (Japan, Sweden) turn out to often be those where the difference in incomes between the social classes is the least. In study after study, it has been demonstrated that everything that benefits social cohesion contributes to growth in life expectancy. Social democracy is good for health."

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At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another conjunction:

According to Sir Claus Moser, chairman of the Basic Skills Agency [UK], one in five adults in Britain is functionally illiterate.
The International Adult Literacy Survey shows that Britain is only slightly behind the United States, where 21–24 percent of adults
have the lowest level of literacy skills.
The problems in the United States and Britain are notably worse
than in other developed countries.

Quote from:
The English Experiment
by Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally, Education Next, Summer 2005.


At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S.: We require some race & class data + analysis of this problem . . .


At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.P.S.: Ignorance and ill health of the masses also provides a supplementary and provocative property for the protagonists of the current war in Iraq.


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