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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Inequality in Income Translates Into Inequality in Life Expectancy

Inequality in Income Translates Into Inequality in Life Expectancy

Sunday, 16 March 2014 07:51

This NYT piece compares life expectancy and health outcomes in Fairfax, Virginia, a wealthy county of Washington suburbs, with McDowell County, West Virginia, a poor coal-mining county in Appalachia. It describes some of the differences in living conditions that have led to a 15-year gap in life expectancies between the two counties. The differences in health outcomes in these counties are attributable to factors that have led to sharp increase in gaps in life expectancy by income across the country.

Comments (5)Add Comment
Are you suggesting we should execute a selection of wealthy people
written by JC, March 16, 2014 10:54
to create life expectancy equality? Given the hammer the Marxists like yourself use as it relates to the "inequality" bogeyman, that's only slight hyperbole. I'm in the I want more millionaires and billionaires, especially within the USA, because it normally equates to a rise in innovation and economic growth.
It's In the Numbers
written by Larry Signor, March 16, 2014 1:11
"In McDowell county, the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 20, 5.5% from 20 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 44.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years."

According to the census bureau the median age in the US was 37.3 years. The population of McDowell county has gone from 49,899 in 1980 to 21,326 (est.) in 2012, a decline of over 57%. We could be shooting fish in a barrel with this particular argument, but it is the NYT.
There certainly seems to be a correlation between inequality and life expectancy, but we do our argument no good building strawmen.
written by Last Mover, March 16, 2014 1:52

Uh, if JC the deranged dude above wants to talk about executions and life expectant equality, try starting with who is executing whom economically, shall we?

The reason there aren't increasingly more millionaires and billionaires at the top in relative terms is precisely because those at the very top earn take so much more incrementally than those below them, who do earn a living by actually adding value witn increased growth and innovation - not reducing it in the opposite direction.

This widens the spread and concentrates the most rich to increasingly crowd out those below them from ever having a chance to become a millionaire or billionaire. In absolute terms there are more of them, but less of them as a share of population.

Go ahead, knock yourself out with the mindless ad hominem Marxist smears. Fawning over economic predators becomes those who preach free market competition to the masses as the predators systematically crush it, the middle class, and the last wanna-be predator in line just below them in the race to the top predator class.
The more healthy moved away
written by Dean, March 16, 2014 2:27

is that your point? It's certainly a plausible story.
written by Larry Signor, March 16, 2014 5:46
Yes, Dean. I think that is a plausible story. There is very little left in McDowell county to retain young, healthy people. It seems to be a regionally oriented demographic "death spiral". It may be more prevalent than a big club can tease out.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.