Ten Miles Square

Blog

November 14, 2012 11:28 PM The Truth About Life Expectancy

By Aaron Carroll

Paul Krugman wrote a nice piece yesterday on life expectancy, specifically on how it hasn’t been going up like “everyone” says. It’s a zombie idea; it won’t die.

I thought I’d add to his post by bringing back some of my favorite charts on the subject.

1) Life expectancy at 65 has not gone up nearly as much as life expectancy at birth. That’s what matters. That’s what determines how many years of Medicare or social security you might get:

2) Life expectancy at 65 has not gone up for blacks as much as it has for whites.

3) Life expectancy at 65 has gone up much more for people in the top half of earners than in the bottom half.

4) While the richest 25% of Americans compare favorably to any other country, those in the bottom 50% of earners don’t. They will live fewer years after age 65 than the average person in most OECD countries. I don’t dispute that disparities might exist in other countries, but they definitely exist here. We’re not all living longer equally:

5) Speaking of which, there are a number of places in the country where life expectancy is dropping:

It’s important to think of all of these things when you claim we need to raise the retirement age because “we’re all living so much longer than we used to”.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Back to Home page

Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.
tags ,