Tag: Life Expectancy

TikTok on the Gender Gap


The juxta-positioning of Tuesday’s New York Times headlines was disturbing. The first “Why Does This Bride Look So Mad?”, was followed by “An ‘Unsettling’ Drop in Life Expectancy in Men.”

The “reluctant bride” referred to in the first article is (by now) an estimated 175 years old intended bride was 18 in the painting. The painting itself was the work of artist, Auguste Toulmouche, in 1866. The original title was “The Hesitant Fiancee. Its current fame has a much shorter timeline – 2 weeks to be exact. That’s when it began to appear on TikTok, hosted as a statement of disgust an outrage by mostly young females in opposition to “sexist scolding.”

The painting displays a soon-to-be bride, attended by three friends, all well appointed in opulent dress, with obvious emotional distress. The bride’s face is frozen somewhere between disgust and outrage. Two supplicants are attempting to calm her, with limited success, by hand-holding and kisses on the forehead. The third is distracted, examine her own image in a mirror.

Temple University Art Professor, Theresa Dolan, offered this description to The New York Times Style and Pop Culture reporter Callie Holtermann: “You don’t often get this in 19th-century painting — this kind of independent streak. She’s actually showing the emotion of not wanting to get married to the person that her obviously wealthy family has picked out. What Toulmouche does so successfully is get into the psyche of the woman.”

Since its recent appearance on social media, modern women have been setting the image to music (“a dramatic section of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem”) and adding their own captions, including: “Literally me when I’m right,” “You’re overreacting,” “You should smile more,” “Ugh, do I really have to go through with this,” “Don’t be mean,” and “Mean wasn’t even in the room with us but I can go get him and bring him in.”

Turning the page, the second article feels somehow connected to the first, and not in a good way. It’s written by the Times Sex, Gender, and Science reporter Azeen Ghorayshi, and begins with, “The gap in life expectancy between men and women in the United States grew to its widest in nearly 30 years, driven mainly by more men dying of Covid and drug overdoses, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.”

The facts are clear: Life expectancy of men at birth is now approximately six years less than women.

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We Spend More on Health Care Than Other Rich Countries but Have Worse Outcomes?

flying cadeuciiHere it’s argued that we need to retire the health care fallacy, “We spend more on health care than other rich countries but have worse outcomes.” The fallacy implies U.S. health care is deficient in spite of being costly. Indeed our health care costs too much, but there is little evidence that our care is less effective than care in other countries. On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence that our social determinants of health are worse.

The argument segues off a recent article by Victor Fuchs. The case is presented by using a simple linear model to explore how life expectancy might change when we substitute the numbers of other countries’ determinants of health for U.S. numbers. After making these substitutions and holding health care spending constant the model predicts U.S. life expectancy is right there with the other OECD countries, 81.6 years compared to their average 81.4 years. This what-if modelling makes clear what should be obvious but the fallacy hides, that health care is only one part of population health.

The Fuchs Essay 
Victor Fuchs’s recent essay1 impressed me. He wrote of the lack of a positive relationship between life expectancy and health care expenditures (HCE) in OECD countries. A chart was included for empirical support. I liked the idea behind the chart which demonstrated his point using data from select countries and our 50 states. Professor Fuchs has written on this topic for years (e.g., in his 1974 book “Who Shall Live?”). I posted on the fallacy in March 2013 but was not as nuanced.2

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Health Insurance and Life Expectancy

Did you know that Hispanic Americans live longer than non-Hispanic whites? If that doesn’t knock your socks off, consider this: American Hispanics are three times as likely to be uninsured as non-Hispanic whites.

If you’re still not blown away, maybe you haven’t been following the twists and turns of the health policy debate. As I wrote at my blog the other day, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discovery that Hispanics (one-third of whom are uninsured) have a life expectancy that is 2 1/2 years longer than whites (90% of whom have health insurance) makes mincemeat out of the oft-repeated idea that the uninsured get less health care and die earlier than everyone else.

In support of the conventional wisdom, for example, the Physicians for a National Health Care Program (PNHCP) went so far as to claim that a whopping 45,000 people die every year because they are uninsured. That figure, repeated as though it were unquestioned fact by President Obama and most of the health care media, is almost as large as the number of American soldiers killed in the entire Vietnam War!

Families USA went so far as to make the astounding claim that 6 people die every day in Florida because they are uninsured. Eight die every day in California; and 25 die in New York. In Texas, the report implies that more people die every two months from lack of health insurance than the number killed at the battle of the Alamo (counting only losses on our side, that is). Nationwide, says the PNHCP, an uninsured person dies every 12 minutes.

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