Monday, February 22, 2010

Pataki Misleads On Life Expectancy Gap

Former Governor George Pataki was on MSNBC today railing against health care reform. He mentioned that in Great Britain the life expectancy of the poorest folks is a decade less than the life expectancy of the richest folks. The first thing I noticed, he never mentioned the US stat. And David Shuster let him go, without asking him if he even knows what the US stat is.

Well, we looked into it. First off, he was wrong about the Great Britain fact. The gap is not a decade, it is seven years. He was only three years off, but that happens to be a margin of error of 30%.

So let us look at the US figures. In the last few decades, the life expectancy gap between the rich and poor has skyrocketed from 1.2 years in the early 70's to 5.8 years in 2001.

What pissed me off more than anything else about Gov Pataki's interview is that David Shuster just let him get up their and spout his views without any real push back. Is it too much to ask that he give a tough question? When someone claims a stat about Great Britain is an argument against health care reform, is it too much to ask that he or she also know the US figure?

Update: Unvanguard commented over at Democratic Underground:
The article the author points to in the British case reads: "The review says health inequalilties have not narrowed over the past decade, with the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest neighbourhoods standing at seven years." But the US graph refers to the difference between people in the top half of the income distribution and people in the bottom half. These numbers are not comparable. The comparable US figure is almost certainly higher than 5.8.
blog comments powered by Disqus