Canadian Life Expectancy
August 03, 2009, 06:39 PM
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Megan McArdle writes, under the heading Department of Awful Statistics
News flash:  Bill O`Reilly is not very bright.
Last night on the O`Reilly Factor, Bill turned to the audience letters. From Peter in Canada: "Has anyone noted that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?" Bill wasn`t phased, but he did use some creative math to answer. "Well Peter, that`s to be expected," he said, "we have ten times as many people as you do!"
There is actually an interesting point here:  up to a certain point, population density decreases your life expectancy quite dramatically.  But I`m pretty sure that Bill O`Reilly was not making that interesting point. I`m pretty sure he was saying something incredibly innumerate.
Probably true, but the reason for Canada`s relatively higher life expectancy is not socialized medicine either—as Kathy Shaidle pointed out recently, waiting in line for medical care doesn`t make your life longer, it just makes it seem longer.

No, the reason is that Canada is a much whiter country than the United States. Ms. McArdle also links, as a mental health break, to a student doctor`s forum in which residents are sharing stories of front line emergency room medicine.Their stories sound like this:

  • "Noone in North Philly is actually dating or married to their children`s other parent. This particular story was a rare case, and does not accurately represent the population seen at Temple. However, even though this woman was still sleeping with her `baby`s father`, she did not refer to him as her boyfriend/husband.
  • "So true. When I was at Temple I don`t think I ever actually saw a mother. All children were "cared for" by grandmother or some other maternal relative.
  • "Just so ya know, the Gulf Coast is just as similar, except its usually the grandmother bringining in all the grandkids.
  • "During my years in Philly I never once saw a mother, always, always the grandmother or even elder maternal relative. I did meet a 50 year old great grandmother once.
This kind of thing does not lend itself to increased life expectancy in America`s minority population, and there`s less of it in Canada.