Hmm, I wonder:
Despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on healthcare, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.
These are some of the startling conclusions from a major new report which attempts to explain why the world\’s number-one economy has slipped to 12th place – from 2nd in 1990- in terms of human development.
The American Human Development Report, which applies rankings of health, education and income to the US, paints a surprising picture of a country that spends well over $5bn each day on healthcare – more per person than any other country.
The report, Measure of America, was funded by Oxfam America, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. It shows each of the 11 countries that rank higher than the US in human development has a lower per-capita income.
I can\’t see a download site for the report which is a little unusual for this sort of thing. If anyone finds one, let me know would you?
There\’s two things I\’d really rather like to find out.
Those countries score better on the health and knowledge indices that make up the overall human development index (HDI), which is calculated each year by the United Nations Development Programme.
The health scores used in that HDI weight equality of access to health care very highly. Glenn Whitman is the go to guy here. American health care is indeed highly unequal but that tells us nothing about the actual quality of it.
In fact, the report shows that 15% of American children – 10.7 million – live in families with incomes of less than $1,500 per month.
That doesn\’t ring true at all. That\’s $18,000 a year, which is about (around and about) the Federal Poverty line for a family of four. But there\’s one howling error in the way that US poverty statistics are calculated. They measure market income plus direct cash transfers. They do not include transfers in kind (food stamps, Medicaid, housing vouchers and the like) not do they include anything operating through the tax system. So they deliberately exclude the largest US anti-poverty program, the EITC.
So if they are using the Federal Poverty Line as their measure (something I don\’t know and one of the reasons I\’d like to be able to skim the report) then they\’re actually measuring the number of people who would be in poverty before they were helped (and that 15% number looks about right for the Fed Pov Line), rather than the number of people who still need help after they have been helped.
Hmm, interesting, eh?
Especially when we have figures that show that after the interactions of the tax and benefit systems that the bottom 10% of the US population enjoy lifestyles almost exactly the same as the bottom 10% of the Finnish or Swedish populations.