Populist politicians are destroying Chile’s revolutionary pension system. In 1981 Chile became the first country to privatize social security, ending the pay-as-you-go system that had been in place since 1924 and had collapsed. Now Chile’s left wants to resurrect it.
The state-run pension system was plagued by corruption and rent-seeking since its earliest days. Among the 11,395 laws passed by the Chilean Congress between 1926 and 1963, 10,532 granted pension privileges to special-interest groups, many of them politically connected. In 1968, Chilean President Eduardo Frei, a center-left Christian Democrat, described the cronyism that plagued social security as an “absurd monstrosity” that the government couldn’t afford.
Pension privatization reversed this perverse dynamic. Instead of taxing active workers to pay pensioners through the bureaucracy, the new system, created by former Labor Minister Jose Pinera, established that 10% of the employee’s salary is transferred automatically to an account under his name at one of the Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones, or AFP. These private pension funds compete to attract workers and invest their pensions for a fee.
This has restored the link between contributions and pension benefits by making workers responsible for saving the funds that will support them once they retire. This novel system also limited corruption and rent-seeking, and Chilean taxpayers are no longer on the hook for pension deficits, which in 1981 represented 3% of gross domestic product.
Longer life expectancy is also a problem. When the AFP system was created, men retired at 65 with an average life expectancy around 67. Women retired at the age of 60 with a life expectancy around 74. Today, the retirement ages are unchanged but life expectancy has increased to 77 for men and 83 for women. This means more years of retirement have to be funded by the same years of saving.
AT THE turn of the twentieth century, a newborn white American could expect to live for around 48 years. That was 15 years longer than a newborn African-American could expect. Improvements in hygiene, medicine and other public-health measures led those numbers to rise dramatically. By mid-century, life expectancy for African-Americans had nearly doubled, to 61 years, while for white Americans it rose to 69. By 2017 the gap had narrowed further, to three and a half years: 75.3 for African-Americans, 78.8 for whites. But Hispanic Americans outlive them both, to an average of 81.8 years. In other words, both races have progressed significantly, but gaps remain. This same pattern exists across a number of metrics.
The most disturbing aspect of this pattern is not just the enduring gap in outcomes between black and white Americans, though it has narrowed markedly. It is that, as the work of Anne Case and Angus Deaton, both economists at Princeton, has shown, life expectancy fell for all demographic groups of Americans between 2014 and 2017 for the first time since 1993. The rise in mortality rates has been especially stark for whites without college degrees, owing to what they call “deaths of despair”: drug overdoses, suicide and diseases caused by heavy drinking.
Variations in the age patterns and magnitudes of excess deaths, as well as differences in population sizes and age structures make cross-national comparisons of the cumulative mortality impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic challenging. Life expectancy is a widely-used indicator that provides a clear and cross-nationally comparable picture of the population-level impacts of the pandemic on mortality. Life tables by sex were calculated for 29 countries, including most European countries, Chile and the USA for 2015-2020. Life expectancy at birth and at age 60 for 2020 were contextualised against recent trends between 2015-19. Using decomposition techniques we examined which specific age groups contributed to reductions in life expectancy in 2020 and to what extent reductions were attributable to official COVID-19 deaths. Life expectancy at birth declined from 2019 to 2020 in 27 out of 29 countries. Males in the USA and Bulgaria experienced the largest losses in life expectancy at birth during 2020 (2.1 and 1.6 years respectively), but reductions of more than an entire year were documented in eleven countries for males, and eight among females. Reductions were mostly attributable to increased mortality above age 60 and to official COVID-19 deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered significant mortality increases in 2020 of a magnitude not witnessed since WW-II in Western Europe or the breakup of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. Females from 15 countries and males from 10 ended up with lower life expectancy at birth in 2020 than in 2015.
Author(s): José Manuel Aburto, Jonas Schöley, Ilya Kashnitsky, Luyin Zhang, Charles Rahal, Trifon I. Missov Melinda C. Mills, Jennifer B. Dowd, Ridhi Kashyap
Female life expectancy exceeds male life expectancy. Males at ages 15 to 40 die at rates that are often three times female levels, but this excess mortality is not the main cause of the life expectancy gap. Few deaths occur at younger adult ages compared with mortality after age 60 or, historically, among newborns. Our demographic analysis shows that, up through the early decades of the 20th century, the life expectancy gap largely resulted from excess deaths of infant boys. Afterward, higher mortality among men 60+ became crucial. The higher mortality of males at ages 15 to 40 has played a modest role.
Author(s): Virginia Zarulli, Ilya Kashnitsky, James W. Vaupel
But here’s what I only started to understand last week (and I was kind of mind-blown by that, so I’m thrilled to share it with you): Our life expectancy increases with every minute we live. When I turned 30, my life expectancy got up to 90.37 years. Once I turn 80, it’ll be 93.76 years.
Life expectancy at birth has been increasing over the past decade in the EU: official statistics reveal that life expectancy has risen, on average, by more than two years per decade since the 1960s. However, the latest available data suggest that life expectancy stagnated or even declined in recent years in several EU Member States.
Moreover, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, life expectancy at birth fell in the vast majority of the EU Member States with available 2020 data. The largest decreases were recorded in Spain (-1.6 years compared with 2019) and Bulgaria (-1.5), followed by Lithuania, Poland and Romania (all -1.4).
Life expectancy across much of the European Union has dropped last year, as the 27-nation bloc struggled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU statistical agency Eurostat said Wednesday that “following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, life expectancy at birth fell in the vast majority of the EU member states.” It said the biggest drop was in Spain, with a loss of 1.6 years compared with 2019.
Bulgaria followed with a loss of 1.5 years, followed by Lithuania, Poland and Romania, which all saw a drop of -1.4 years. Denmark and Finland were the only nations to see a rise in life expectancy, with 0.1 years.
Every green block shows the fraction of individuals that are still alive when they reach that age. The red blocks show the fraction that died since the previous age group.
LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH
If we add up all the areas of the red blocks (deaths) and divide by 100%, we get the expected age an individual would die at (aka: life expectancy at birth). Humans mostly live around 75 years after birth.
The 2020 life expectancy numbers also underscore longer-term health challenges that were already alarming. For two to three decades, life expectancy has been improving much more rapidly for higher earners than for lower earners, and 2020 has probably made these gaps worse. The one bright spot in the differential trends before the pandemic had been a narrowing of racial differences. These new estimates show a dramatic reversal of that hopeful pattern. From the early 1990s to 2016, the racial gap in life expectancy for males at birth shrunk from more than 8 years to about 4.5. During the first half of 2020, it widened to more than 7 years.
On the contrary, 2020 mortality data indicate that death rates from non-Covid causes rose, despite the economic recession. More Americans than expected died from diabetes, high blood pressure and pneumonia. Some of these deaths may have been misreported, and actually caused by Covid. But a large number may also reflect the challenges in providing non-Covid health care during the past year, as people have avoided hospitals, and government mandates have restricted discretionary medical procedures. The pandemic will provide hard lessons on which types of medical care truly improve health, and which ones can be safely skipped or delayed.
Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.
Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made headlines last week when it announced that Covid-19 had reduced the average life expectancy of Americans in 2020 by a full year. The news seemed to starkly illustrate the devastation wrought by our nation’s worst public health crisis in 100 years.
But there was a problem. The pandemic’s appalling toll could not have reduced life span by nearly that much. My own estimate is that when Covid-19’s ravages in 2020 are averaged across the country’s entire population, we each lost about five days of life.
The CDC’s mistake? It calculated life expectancy using an assumption that is assuredly wrong, which yielded a statistic that was certain to be misunderstood. That’s exactly the type of misstep the agency can’t afford to make. Not now, not after former President Trump’s relentless attacks on its credibility. Not after his advisers were caught altering and editing the agency’s monthly reports to downplay the pandemic.
That’s not to say every single white American has it great — that’s obviously not true. But, on average, Black people tend to face much bigger challenges for living the healthiest life possible. That shows up in the life expectancy gap: White people were expected to live nearly 79 years on average before Covid-19 and almost 78 years after, while Black people were expected to live nearly 75 years before Covid-19 and almost 73 after, according to the PNAS study. The Black life expectancy even before Covid-19 was equivalent to what the white life expectancy was in the 1970s — as though decades of progress in well-being and health care were suddenly erased.