Saturday, November 14, 2009

Maps of Life Expectancy



The third in my series on global health has maps on life expectancy. [First post] [Second post]  I found this data while looking up the previous stuff, and it is interesting on its own.

The first map is first because it is the flashiest. It also shows the US only, and is a good place to start. Basically life expectancy is lowest in the south and highest in the midwest. It is nineteen years old data though. It is hard to find similar data on the county level. There is a four year old map at the state level here. It shows that we all should move to Minnesota, and South continues to lag.

I think this is interesting, because when I go South, the only thing the restaurants have is fried food and the people are fatter too. I also wonder why sitting inside all winter makes people healthier, but it seems to.
University of California at Santa Cruz has a fascinating site where they show how life expectancy has changed over the last half century. I have put two of the maps here, but there are three more on their site. (I could have pasted all four of them here, but I thought that it was sleazy to swipe their whole page. The key is on next map.
You can see how life expectancy has advanced everywhere, but China has nearly jumped to first world standards and how Africa continues to lag.

Life expectancy has increased over time. Wikipedia says that ancient peoples may have had average life expectancy of about 18 or so. It seems that people who made it to adulthood often lived much longer to fifty or so.

The graph at right is for females, and it shows the oldest people that were found in the population, presumably by poking though graveyards. This is from the US National Institutes of Health.   These numbers are a little suspect since the curve is so smooth. It seems to show the world culture evolved uniformly.
There is a lot of analysis on the relationship of life expectancy and per capita GDP. The graph at right is from Oxfam.  Small increases in GDP really increase life expectancy, but then it stops mattering so much. Life is not good until one gets to $7000 per year or so.
Finally, since the H1N1 Swine flu is around, I thought I would put up this data on how the flu of 1918 reduced life expectancy. The info is from Nature Medicine 10, S82 - S87 (2004). The epidemic was more significant than either world war. This is pretty scary since it shows how serious an epidemic can be.

!See the other posts on global health:  [First post] [Second post]!