Szókincs fejlesztés: Technology Could Reverse Life Expectancy
Hard as it is to believe, for the first time the life expectancy for Americans (not counting the effect of wars) has dropped for two consecutive years. Perhaps less hard to believe is that this is not true across economic levels. The richest Americans are gaining in longevity, indeed to unprecedented levels. The poor don’t have it so well, and in the U.S., this includes the shrinking middle class, who are also dying earlier. With the widening income gap, there’s a growing discrepancy between life expectancies for the rich and poor. Depending on geography, those on the lower end of the income bracket spread can expect to live 20 years less than their better-off counterparts, a shocking finding from an in-depth study coming out of the University of Washington.
We’ll get into why this is, but this recent reversal of life expectancy for the poor should cause us grave concern. Given that this problem is rooted in personal finance, we pose the question: Can life expectancy win a few years back through an injection of inclusive capitalism?
Inequality in economics, and our ongoing debate about inclusive capitalism versus exclusive wealth, have led us into the territory of life and death. Literally.
Population data is telling us that the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is widening, both in the U.S. and the U.K., with rich Americans living up to fifteen years longer than their poorer peers. And while actuarial science can be dismal, it offers crucial insights into what does and doesn’t work in our economic system. We must be doing something wrong: in the States, while lucky residents of wealthy Chatham, North Carolina can expect to live past the age of 97, those in Stilwell, Oklahoma—a heavily Native-populated town—only get 56 years, more than 4 decades less on the planet. Similarly, in the Scottish city of Glasgow, life expectancy in the Lenzie district is 82 years, while ten minutes’ drive away in Calton it is just 54.
It was a successful capitalist system that created the opportunity for longer life. We now need an inclusive capitalist system to further spread these gains. The causes of the recent widening of the longevity gap are many, varied and disputed, but the dip in U.S. life expectancy is really about inequality. This manifests itself through diet and obesity, lack of access to healthcare, substance abuse and mental ill-health. It cannot be the job of capitalism to rescue every last addict or all over-eaters from themselves—these are social problems which are rightly the preserve of social policy—but there are positive contributions that businesses can make.
Take obesity, for example. A quarter of the U.K.’s population is obese, and we are catching up fast with the U.S. where this number has risen to a third in the last decade and a half. It’s a medical truism that diabetes and bowel cancer often follow obesity; and it’s equally well known that all of these conditions are preventable with better diet and exercise. How can these preventive regimens be put at the service of less wealthy people? In the absence of government leadership in this area, inclusive capitalism can step in, in the form of businesses funding research into healthier alternatives, incentivizing better lifestyles by marketing healthier foods and low-sugar drinks, varying insurance premiums based on lifestyle, incorporating gym memberships and step-counting apps into bundled product offerings, and so on.
life expectancy – várható élettartam
to be dropped for two consecutive years – két egymást követő évben csökkenni
to unprecedented levels – példanélküli mértékben
shrinking middle class – csökkenő középosztály
discrepancy – ellentmondás
shocking finding – meglepő eredmény
rooted in – beágyazódott
Inequality – egyenlőtlenség
debate – vita
dismal – lehangoló
crucial insights – létfontosságú adatok
to manifest – megtestesülni
to preserve – megőrizni
truism – közhely
preventable – megelőzhető
to incentivize – ösztönözni