One for the Equality Lovers

Is this a good or a bad thing?

In a New York Times article this morning, Robert Pear summarizes recent research showing that the gap in life expectancy between high-income/better educated people and low-income/less-educated people is expanding substantially.

Well? Is the fact that the rich live longer than the poor, and the gap is widening, something which needs attention paid to it?

And does your position change when you find out more details of what is happening?

That is, life expectancy is increasing on average, but it is increasing much more rapidly at the top of the socio-economic distribution than at the bottom — and some research suggests that life expectancy at the bottom is not even rising.

I would argue that the sum total of human lifespans increasing is a good thing. But is there anyone prepared to argue that it is a bad thing in aggregate, because the inequality is widening?

It\’s a serious question too: for there definitely are those who argue that even while everyone is becoming better off economically this isn\’t in fact a good idea because economic inequality is increasing.

5 comments on “One for the Equality Lovers

  1. “But is there anyone prepared to argue that it is a bad thing in aggregate, because the inequality is widening?”

    Err, does Polly write shit on pulped wood? Of course the Guardianistas are going to piss and whine about this.

    New Labour is quite content for people to die sooner, as long as we all die more equal: they already withdraw NHS treatment from people who want to buy drugs not sanctioned by NICE.

    Is it really unimaginable to one day see a Handicapper General equipped with a syringe, stalking the land looking for middle-class people who have lived too long?

  2. “Is the fact that the rich live longer than the poor, and the gap is widening, something which needs attention paid to it?”

    I don’t see a problem but if there is one, there is also an easy solution – cull the rich.

    The gap is not that great. Killing a few Young Uns ought to do it. But they have to come from highly educated and wealthy backgrounds.

    Ms Toynbee, for instance, is in a High Income bracket. She went to Oxford even if she was, well, sent down is not the right phrase. I have no doubts that in the cause of equality, Ms Toynbee thinks no sacrifice is too great and would be willing to lay down her life for the Greater Good. In fact we ought to have an annual appeal to the Guardian staff and any Highly Paid readers to volunteer to be put down for the sacred cause of Equality. As painlessly as possible of course. At least that is what we will tell them. Seumas Milne is young enough that he would probably skew the average all by himself. Hurrah!

    I’d say this was a win-win.

  3. As per usual this type of thing lends itself to confusion. The Left is always going on and on about the need to increase the well-being of the collective over the individual (taxation for instance).

    Here is an instance of well-being, life longevity, which is increasing for the “collective” and it will be considered “bad”.

    Perhaps it is time for a Worstallian nostrum to easily cite as short-hand when this type of flipping, flopping, and having all Lefty sides covered in hypocrisy pops up.

    Tim adds. Think there is already a non-Worstallian one. The equality of the grave.

  4. I would guess that the greatest influence on the longevity figures would be (as they’ve always been) such items as infant mortality and premature death during childbirth or adolescence/young adulthood.

    Infant mortality is one everyone recognizes–and those at the lower end of the economic spectrum always suffer more of it, for any of several reasons, even when completely adequate faciltities and services are available (and even when they’re available free). I’d also expect that more poor mothers-to-be die in childbirth (for various reasons) or of later complications (and ditto for their young offspring). Add to that the tendency for certain groups to form gangs in their adolescent years and kill each other as a regular activity–and you’ve got all that’s necessary to produce such alarming differences in longevity figures.,They might look dramatically different if one were to look at figures on the expected “life remainder” of people already in, say, their early thirties.

    I know I pay attention to all the latest health news and the recent stuff about alcohol consumption shows clearly that, after getting off to a good start in years past, I’ve “backslid” to a point where I’m liable to do nearly as much statistical damage (or damage to the statistics) as the worst of the lot–the teetotalers. And a doctor told me that, if I drink a half-bottle of wine every day for the next 50 years, I’m liable to live well past 100. (Sounds about right, since I’m past 71 now.)

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