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October 08, 2003

Poor in US- Poor in the World

In comments on this post, an interesting discussion went on about whether the poor of today are better off than the poor of 100 years ago. But one thing that's true-- the poor in the US are no better off than the populations of poor countries around the world.

See here:

You often hear it said that even poor people in rich countries like the United States are rich compared to ordinary people in poor countries. While that may be true when it comes to consumer goods like televisions or telephones, which are widely available even to poor people in the United States, it's completely wrong when it comes to health.

In a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, University of Michigan researchers found that African-American females living to age 15 in Harlem had a 65% chance of surviving to age 65, about the same as women in India. Meanwhile, Harlem's African-American males had only a 37% chance of surviving to age 65, about the same as men in Angola or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among both African-American men and women, infectious diseases and diseases of the circulatory system were the prime causes of high mortality.

It takes more income to achieve a given life expectancy in a rich country like the United States than it does to achieve the same life expectancy in a less affluent country. So the higher money income of a low-income person in the United States, compared to a middle-income person in a poor country, does not necessarily translate into a longer life span. The average income per person in African-American families, for example, is more than five times the per capita income of E1 Salvador. The life expectancy for African-American men in the United States, however, is only about 67 years, the same as the average life expectancy for men in E1 Salvador.

Hardly shocking since as the original post noted, the costs of housing in the US can be so extreme that they consume almost all the income of the poor in the United States.

Posted by Nathan at October 8, 2003 01:11 PM