UNNATURAL CAUSES is inequality making us sick? HEALTH EQUITY research topics and resources to learn more


Where did the U.S. rank in life expectancy 50 years ago?

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In the 1950s U.S. life expectancy was 68.2 years and was longer than in most other countries. Interestingly, we had less economic disparity back then compared with other countries, even Sweden.

But especially starting in the 1980s, the gap in the U.S. between the rich and the rest of us began to grow as other industrialized countries began to prosper and rapidly passed us on many health indicators. Just a coincidence?


Oeppen, Jim & James W. Vaupel. (May 10, 2002). “Enhanced: Broken Limits to Life Expectancy,” Science, 296(5570), 1029 – 1031.

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