Live Long and Prosper…

Do people live longer in the United States or in Latin America? Not surprisingly, that depends on which country south of the border we’re comparing with the US. I found a gold mine of valuable, reliable statistics in the World Health Organization information database to answer my question. Every year the WHO publishes a report on health around the globe! I read that source material for the most recent year (2016) and made the following graph of how long people live in six representative countries, south to north: Chile, El Salvador, Cuba, Mexico, the United States (and Canada as our parallel).

Longevity in the Americas 2016
Chart by Rebecca Cuningham based on 2016 World Health Statistics compiled in 2018, Global Health Observatory (GHO) report accessed online 9/17/18. Source:

I knew Canada’s health system was excellent, so that their statistics showing greater longevity for men and women than the United States didn’t surprise me. However, that life expectancy in both Chile and Cuba were greater than those in the US did make me raise my eyebrows. The details are Chilean women live an average of one year longer and Chilean men live half a year longer than those in the US. In Cuba, it is a question of months longer, but it still seems significant. I believe someone from the United States would guess by average they’d have a much longer life expectancy than the people living in the countries of our southern neighbors. The facts show that is no longer universally true.

I also read in the Global Health Observatory report that the United States spends significantly more money on health care than does any country in Latin America. We have more doctors and hospital beds than Chile, but our lives are shorter. I wonder what part our medical system or way of life makes for this difference? I don’t know the answer but I am curious to investigate the matter further. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Thanks for reading! May we all live long and prosper. Olé! -Rebecca

Para leer este ensayo en español, haz un clic aquí.






Rebecca Cuningham

24 thoughts on “Live Long and Prosper…

  1. I’ve heard that Cuba does a great job of having enough medical practitioners available, and of getting pregnant women to abstain from risky behaviors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ve swapped places with China! “Newsweek’s Daniel Moritz-Rabson reports that the new rankings find the U.S. dropping from 43rd to 64th place. This staggering 21-spot plunge represents the largest decrease for a high-income nation and suggests that Americans born in 2040 won’t live much longer than those born in 2016. As Ed Cara notes for Gizmodo, average life expectancy in 2016 was 78.7, just 1.1 fewer years than the 2040 projection.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “The top determinants of average lifespan are so-called “lifestyle” diseases, according to AFP. These include high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar and alcohol and tobacco use.”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Carolyn De Luna Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s