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Rich Deaths December 6, 2005

Posted by decode in Culture, Politics, The World.
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I came across the CIA’s World Factbook GDP per capita rankings today. I noticed that one of the statistics listed in the Factbook is infant mortality rate. The definition of this statistic, according to the Factbook itself, is:

This entry gives the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year; included is the total death rate, and deaths by sex, male and female. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.

So, I went down the GDP per capita rankings and compared the United States with other similarly rich countries. We like to talk about how good our health care is here, but I found some surprising things.

  • The USA has the second highest GDP per capita in the world (Luxembourg is first).
  • The Infant Mortality Rate in the USA is 6.5 deaths/1,000 live births.
  • You have to go down to GDP per capita country #35 (United Arab Emirates) to find a country that isn’t a small island and has a higher infant mortality rate than the United States.
  • Notable countries with lower Infant Mortality Rates than the US: Iceland, Germany, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, Taiwan, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Cuba
  • The European Union as a whole has a lower infant mortality rate than the US.
  • Middle eastern countries tend to have high infant mortality rates, in relation to similar GDP per capita countries. Example: United Arab Emirates has a GDP per capita of $25,200 and infant mortality rate of 14.51 deaths/1,000 live births. Spain has a GDP per capita of $23,300 and an infant mortality rate of 4.42 deaths/1,000 live births, less than 1/3 of UAE’s. I’d be interested to know what causes this.

I wonder why the US has such bad numbers here. I really can’t come up with a good answer. Most other first world countries have some form of socialized medicine, so I wonder if it is related to that.

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