Friday, August 28, 2009

Life Expectancy in Mexico and China : Things Everyone 'Knows'

Everyone 'knows' that China was a desperately poor and backward country until it opened up to the West around 1980.

Everyone 'knows' that Mexico is full of drug cartels and has a dysfunctional government.

But from 1960-1976, life expectancy increased in Maoist China from 36 to 65 years. Given the time span, this nearly 30 year increase is probably unprecedented in human history.

And China's life expectancy increases stalled immediately after opening up to the West, and the introduction of capitalist modes of production. After overtaking Mexico in life expectancy during the 1970's - right at the end of the Cultural Revolution - it starting lagging behind in the 1980's and has yet to completely catch up. It certainly hasn't surged at the dynamic rate one would expect given the growth in GDP.

Alternatively, Mexico's life expectancy has slowly but continually increased over the last forty years, and has consistently been higher than China's since 1980. It is within striking distance of the United States: 75 years as compared to 78.

1 comment:

Scott said...

In my observation, Mexico seems to have a fairly healthy middle class, with respectable access to basic healthcare for all.

Mexico's total fertility rate approaches that of the US now as well.