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Posts Tagged ‘Life Expectancy’

Why Should Serious People Take Such Reporting Seriously? – Cafe Hayek

Posted by M. C. on December 29, 2019

https://cafehayek.com/2019/12/why-should-serious-people-take-such-reporting-seriously.html

by Don Boudreaux

Here’s a letter to the Program Director of NPR’s Here & Now:

Sir or Madam:

Your segment today on climate change unwittingly offers reasons why so many people not on the political left remain skeptical of entrusting governments with more power to regulate in the name of protecting the environment. Almost every second of this segment’s nine-plus minutes portrayed life today as ghastly, treacherous, and destined only to get more hellish. Yet reality is very different.

Your reporting would be more credible if you at least acknowledged such facts as these – facts that uninformed members of your audience would be shocked to learn:

Global death-rates from natural disasters have fallen dramatically. This rate is today 1/14th what it was a century ago and ½ what it was a half-century ago.

The proportion of the world’s population with access to clean water is at an all-time high.

The risk of dying from air pollution is at an all-time low. (Ditto the risk of dying of famine.)

Life expectancy today continues to rise and is at an all-time high; today it’s much more than twice what it was before the industrial revolution. This happy trend is due in part to the fact that…

Child mortality is at an all-time low. (Ditto for the maternal mortality rate.)

People worldwide are better educated.

These and many other positive trends in human well-being are the direct consequence of economic growth – most of which is spawned by free markets and powered by carbon fuels. Your apparent blindness to this reality casts doubt, if not on your objectivity, certainly on your sense of historical perspective. (I laughed out loud when host Jeremy Hobson – talking about Europeans who today suffer from heat waves – said that “Many people don’t have air-conditioning because, over the course of centuries, they haven’t needed it.” In reality, of course, pre-20th-century Europeans didn’t have air-conditioning because innovative free markets hadn’t yet made it possible.)

The general public would surely pay more attention to climate reporting if programs such as yours were to substitute realism for incessant apocalypticism.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

 

 

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Don’t Thank Government Officials for Progress in Sanitation and Life Expectancy

Posted by M. C. on December 10, 2019

Lastly, I have to point out another false narrative so common in articles like this one at The Guardian. Hickel states that “factory owners refused to allow officials to build sanitation systems … ” But state “officials” by themselves wouldn’t have the slightest clue about how to construct a city’s or a nation’s sanitation system. It was the private sector that had driven forward so much progress in new construction practices, new construction materials, and efficient engineering. The idea that government officials themselves created the ingredients of a modern, clean city is not to be believed.

https://mises.org/wire/dont-thank-government-officials-progress-sanitation-and-life-expectancy?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=417213c33e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-417213c33e-228343965

When you run across an article with a title such as this, it simply begs to be read: “It’s not thanks to capitalism that we’re living longer, but progressive politics.”

That’s from The Guardian last week, and the article assures the reader that the science behind today’s relatively high level of safety and cleanliness didn’t come from the wealth produced through the marketplace in recent centuries. No, it turns out government institutions are responsible for it all. Author Jason Hickel writes:

It wasn’t until the 1880s that urban life expectancies finally began to rise — at least in Europe. But what drove these sudden gains? Szreter finds it was down to a simple intervention: sanitation.

Public health activists had discovered that health outcomes could be improved by separating sewage from drinking water. And yet progress toward this goal was opposed, not enabled, by the capitalist class…factory owners refused to allow officials to build sanitation systems on their properties, and refused to pay the taxes required to get the work done.

It’s common to see statements like this smuggled into articles. The idea is plain to see. Property owners and those involved in “capitalism” don’t care about the public at all, and any advances in the well-being of others, in this case, “sanitation,” only come about through the tireless work of heroic “public health activists.” In fact, even when the work of these brave activists is revealed, the greedy property owners do everything they can to stand in the way of progress. It’s a tired narrative, really.

There’s so much wrong with relatively short statements like this that it’s tough to focus on a single topic for rebuttal. But can we simply assume government bureaucrats and regulators are the good guys here? In fact, for the specific type of knowledge here — sanitation — the medical establishment and state-funded institutions have often actively stood in the way and prevented the dissemination of new information and practices. And, this could very easily explain, in part, why property owners refused to surrender their private-property rights and pay more taxes to “get the work done.”

One such example is the case of Ignaz Semmelweis, a physician and amateur scientist in Vienna in the mid-1800s. Dr. Semmelweis was determined, through his own experimenting, to understand why the maternal mortality rate was about 10 percent in his obstetrics clinic at the state hospital in Vienna. That’s right, about one in ten mothers would not survive giving birth in these “free” institutions. What troubled Dr. Semmelweis was that another clinic in the hospital had a maternal mortality rate of about 4 percent. Why were the outcomes so different?

Dr. Semmelweis set about to document the differences in practice between the two clinics in order to understand and improve conditions in the first clinic with the higher mortality rate — and ultimately, to reduce mortalities in both.

It was common practice at the time for physicians to perform both autopsies and deliver babies, without handwashing or sanitary practices being performed in between. After ruling out several other factors, Dr. Semmelweis concluded that the physicians must be carrying “cadaverous particles” from the autopsy room to the patients. The first clinic (the “free” one), with the higher mortality rate, was the teaching clinic, and therefore, many autopsies were performed there.

Dr. Semmelweis instituted a handwashing procedure that used a chlorine-based solution, and the results were astounding. The mortality rate, which was 18 percent at that specific time, fell to 2.2 percent the next month. Within two months of the new protocol, and likely improved adherence to the new practices, the mortality rate was 0 percent.

Shockingly for us, with the benefit of hindsight, these insights were rejected by the medical establishment throughout Europe. Because he contradicted the medical dogma of the time, and also apparently because medical personnel refused to see themselves as unclean, Dr. Semmelweis was dismissed from his position at the hospital.

It’s also of interest to note that there was a prevailing view that these maternal mortalities were “inevitable,” and that some women even preferred to give birth on the street, rather than in the clinic. Apparently, if they were on the way to the “free” clinic, but gave birth before getting there, they still qualified for child care benefits. You can get the sense from all of this that many saw “free” healthcare as not so great after all.

So was it governments that created the systems of sanitation we now benefit from? It hardly seems one can place credit at the feet of bureaucrats and regulators. It was not at all clear, in the 1880s, that sanitation systems of any kind were necessary because the medical establishment often opposed the idea. Indeed, the germ theory of disease was introduced by Louis Pasteur, and was expanded by Robert Koch only by the 1880s. Perhaps listening to research by Ignaz Semmelweis, spread around thirty years earlier, would have sped this process along and saved countless lives. But thanks to medical “experts” — a great many of them employed by governments — this knowledge was impeded for decades.

Lastly, I have to point out another false narrative so common in articles like this one at The Guardian. Hickel states that “factory owners refused to allow officials to build sanitation systems … ” But state “officials” by themselves wouldn’t have the slightest clue about how to construct a city’s or a nation’s sanitation system. It was the private sector that had driven forward so much progress in new construction practices, new construction materials, and efficient engineering. The idea that government officials themselves created the ingredients of a modern, clean city is not to be believed.

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Selling into Uncharted Territory - How Selling into the ...

 

 

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If Global Warming Is Killing Us, Why Is Global Life Expectancy Increasing? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 16, 2019

According to data compiled by the World Bank, life expectancy continues to grow fastest in Africa. During the ten-year period from 2007 to 2016, the largest gains were realized in Zimbabwe, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa. The gains in years ranged from 13 years over the period in Zimbabwe to nearly 10 years in South Africa. Wealthy and mid-level countries saw gains during this period as well, including Switzerland and Mexico, where life expectancy increased 1.1 years and 1.4 years, respectively.

Those who want to rein in economic activity in the name of climate-improvement would be destroying the very thing that’s improved the quality of life for billions already. Second, the anti-climate-change research would have to show that carbon taxes and similar policies will both reduce climate-change and increase access to better medical care, housing, and clean water. This has certainly not been done.

https://mises.org/wire/if-global-warming-killing-us-why-global-life-expectancy-increasing

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (“Mortality in the United States, 2017“), “Life expectancy for the U.S. population declined to 78.6 years in 2017,” largely due to obesity and drug addiction.

The American life expectancy trend does not reflect global trends, however.

Worldwide, the evidence continues to point toward rising life expectancy in most of the world, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries.

According to data compiled by the World Bank, life expectancy continues to grow fastest in Africa. During the ten-year period from 2007 to 2016, the largest gains were realized in Zimbabwe, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa. The gains in years ranged from 13 years over the period in Zimbabwe to nearly 10 years in South Africa. Wealthy and mid-level countries saw gains during this period as well, including Switzerland and Mexico, where life expectancy increased 1.1 years and 1.4 years, respectively.

Indeed, the continued gains should surprise no one who keeps up with global trends in health. Globally, access to sanitation and clean water has improved substantially while extreme poverty, malnourishment, and child mortality have all declined. This has especially been the case in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where some of the worst poverty can be found.

Why the Climate-Change Panic?

Oddly, however, you won’t hear much about this in the context of the climate change debate.

For years — as life expectancy numbers have continued to rise — pundits and researchers have repeatedly attempted to claim that climate change has led to — or will soon lead to — declines in overall life and health.

For example, The New Republic announced in 2015 that climate change “devastates food security, nutrition, and water safety.” Yet, the data shows that none of these things have been in any way “devastated” over the past decade. In fact, the indicators are all better now than where they were ten years ago.1

Meanwhile, The Lancet predicted (in a report released in November of last year) “continued progress in improving life expectancy.” The biggest gains are to be found in poorer countries. The report also predicts continued life-expectancy growth through the year 2040:…

The Lancet itself report also notes that natural-disaster related deaths are unlikely to be relevant to life expectancy predictions:

Predicted impacts in other studies on extreme weather-related deaths and heat wave deaths are not large enough to have much impact on global life expectancy.

So, while journalists like to talk about how many people climate change will supposedly kill this year, the fact remains that the net gains in life expectancy continue to be positive.  Those who want to rein in economic activity in the name of climate-improvement would be destroying the very thing that’s improved the quality of life for billions already. Second, the anti-climate-change research would have to show that carbon taxes and similar policies will both reduce climate-change and increase access to better medical care, housing, and clean water. This has certainly not been done. In fact, as Robert Murphy has noted, we have every reason to believe the costs of implementation of anti-climate change regimes will be very high.

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Carbon Tax - is it a key policy in the fight against climate change?

 

 

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