📈 Are we living better than our predecessors?

Americans have the lowest life expectancy compared to most other developed nations.

📈 Are we living better than our predecessors?

Today's OneChart

I recently stumbled upon this post from Full Stack Economics, presenting 24 charts that evidence we’re mostly living better than our parents.

The statistics demonstrate how living standards, which predominantly focus on the U.S., have improved significantly since the 1980s.

For example, several charts describe the state of health in modern America, showing that:

  • More Americans have health insurance than ever before.
  • More Americans are surviving cancer than ever before.
  • Fewer people are dying from heart disease these days.

Frequently, cynics and right-wing politicians harp on about how great the good old days were and how a return to these romanticized simpler times would be better for us all.

The truth is: things were a lot more difficult for the average person back then.

Today, we live longer, healthier lives, and that’s something to be grateful for.

It’s not that black and white

However, here’s the plot twist.

Last week, I came across another health-related chart—see below.

It was flooding my various social media timelines, reminding me that, especially in the U.S., health conditions in the wider population aren’t necessarily getting better.

In fact, they are certainly worse than in most other developed countries.

The U.S. spends more money per person on health care than the majority of other high-income nations. Simultaneously, Americans have the lowest life expectancy and some of the worst health outcomes.

Even more dramatic, the gap between the U.S. and other nations listed in the chart has widened over the past 50 years.

What is happening?

While mortality rates for cancer were among the lowest in the U.S., rates of chronic conditions, including mental illness, obesity, addiction, and homicide, were higher than others.

At the same time, the amount of money spent on health care in the U.S. is not providing citizens with comparable health benefits.

In fact, the system suffers from a wasteful overuse of technology (which is only one of the many drivers). To name one example: American doctors are far more likely to perform unnecessary CT and MRI scans on patients.