In the recent working paper – Mortality Amenable to Health Care in 31 OECD Countries: Estimates and Methodological Issues – a number of researchers are using a new index of quality, (the aforementioned “mortality amenable to health care”) that to us gets to the crux of the matter. And while the index is complicated to calculate, it’s fairly easy to understand. It’s simply the portion of the population (adjusted for age) who die each year from a long list of potentially curable diseases – everything from breast cancer to peptic ulcers. Thus, for example, in 2007, 79 people out of every 100,000 died unnecessarily in Greece; the comparable number for the Czech Republic was 125.
So, how’s the United States doing?
Not so well. The US placed 24th (just behind Chile and just ahead of Portugal) among the 31 countries that are members of the OECD. France, the leader by this measure of quality, had a bit more than half as many unnecessary deaths. Wait, there’s more bad news: Between 1997 and 2007, the index for the United States improved by just 1.8 percent – which puts us in a race with Mexico for the least improved among OECD countries. (Ireland won the “most improved” crown, reducing unnecessary mortality by 5.5 percent.)
Did you know that the US gives is a foreign aid “miser” by international standards? Although the US gives more foreign aid than any other country ($30.2 billion) it gives less per capita and as a share of GNI (gross national income, a measure similar to GDP) than most peer nations.
In 1970, the OECD (an organization of advanced industrial democracies) agreed on a target of foreign aid spending of 0.70 percent of GDP. Only a few countries have reached that goal. These include The Netherlands (0.81%), Denmark (0.90%), Sweden (0.97%), Luxembourg (1.09%), and Norway (1.10%). In 2010, the US gave about 0.21 percent of GNI in foreign aid. That’s a little more than Greece (0.17%) and a little less than Portugal (0.29%). See link for more data.
If we measured foreign aid per capita (that is, divided up the $30.2 billion in US foreign aid by our country’s population), each US citizen contributed about $97 for foreign aid in 2010. The figures across much of the OECD are higher: Each Spaniard gave $126, each Briton gave $222, each Swede gave $483, each Dane gave $517, and each Norwegian gave $936. This map shows that data.
Ever wonder why the US has a hard time winning “hearts & minds” overseas? This is a big part of that reason. BTW, the entire “foreign affairs” spending makes up less than one percent of the US budget.
Last week’s (Comparative) Fact of the Week was about health care spending (at 16.2% of GDP, we’re the world’s highest health care spender). What do we get for all that?
Did you know that the US ranks 34th in infant mortality rate (just behind Cuba)? The US infant mortality rate of 7.07 means that 0.7% of all children born in the United States die before reaching their first birthday. For comparison, Sweden and Japan have infant mortality rates of 3.18 and 3.14, respectively.
Did you also know that the US ranks 38th in life expectancy (again, just behind Cuba)? Life expectancy in the US is 78.2 years. For comparison, citizens in Japan can expect to live 82.7 years; Swedes can expect to live 80.9 years.
So. Where does all that health care spending go? I’ll be interesting to see if our indicators (at least infant mortality) goes down in the next few years.
I’m going to try to start a weekly “(Comparative) Fact of the Week” series. The first is about health care.
Did you know that the US is the global leader in health care spending? The US spent 16.2% of GDP on health care in 2009. The global average was 7.0% of GDP. Among advanced industrial democracies, the next five highest spenders were: Belgium (11.8%), France (11.7%), and Switzerland, Germany, and Portugal (11.3% each).
What did industrial democracies with single-payer universal health care spend?