There is an assumption that we in the U.S. will have longer life spans due to our economic strength. Tied to this is the opposing thought – that our health will suffer if we spend less or grow weaker in the global markets. I cannot say for certain this is false, but my research in global healthcare has pushed me towards thinking that our health has very little to do with economic strength, and much more towards quality of life.
Quality of life is something that researchers have just begun to explore, and it still falls into the category of ‘I know it when I see it‘ (thanks to the Supreme Court for that phrase!) On the other hand, GDP and lifespan are two factors that we have fairly good numbers on. Thus, I present the interactive map showing lifespan and amount in US dollars per capita, per year. My conclusion? That the amount spent has a tipping point (akin to a logarithmic curve) after which returns are minimal. Once a country spends more than ~$3000-3500 per person/year, there is little more return on the investment. After this, other factors must kick in.
Granted, the countries with the greatest longevity are mostly in the Western European/Northern American domains, but there are notable exceptions. For instance, China and Russia have roughly equal life spans, and the amount they spend per person is incredibly low as judged by US standards (the chart is available by clicking ‘see data’ at the bottom of the visualization). These countries are only a tad bit below us in lifespan, and successfully spend less than 1/10th of what we do. What is equally impressive is China’s lifespan compared to population. They are doing something right, and it may be that nebulous ‘quality of life’ that people in the US are just beginning to quantify.
- Non-religious nations have higher quality of life (secularnewsdaily.com)