Economic success and failure: life expectancy edition

Frank Popham

Recently, a number of governments have shown interest in moving beyond economic growth (GDP) to judge national performance. Measures of wellbeing are among the additional measures suggested. Here's Scotland's First Minister on the topic. Amartya Sen had a slight twist on this idea. Use mortality statistics as measures of economic success. In that spirit, let’s assess the economic performance of some high income countries using life expectancy. I limit analysis to countries in the Human Mortality Database. In 2016, Hong Kong had the most successful economy with the USA towards the bottom.

Looking at trends for the UK and USA against the life expectancy leader from 1970 to 2016, these two countries have been relatively economically weak. There have been significant and worrying slowdowns recently. They are, perhaps, in recession?

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Popham (2019, Sept. 18). Frank Popham: Economic success and failure: life expectancy edition. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Popham, Frank},
  title = {Frank Popham: Economic success and failure: life expectancy edition},
  url = {},
  year = {2019}