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Policies that Save Lives

Did you know that working age deaths are higher in the United States than in other high-income countries? It’s an unfortunate trend that public health experts have been watching for some time and it contributes to the fact that American life expectancy in 2019 fell between two middle income countries: Cuba and Albania. People between the ages of 25 and 64 are dying earlier from cardiovascular disease, from problems associated with alcohol and drug poisoning, and from suicide.

But, the latest research shows that early deaths aren’t distributed equally across the country. Deaths are lower in states with policies that focus on investments in education, higher minimum wage, excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco to discourage their use, and expanded access to affordable health care.

Dr. Steven Woolf is one of the study’s authors and director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. In interview with USA Today, he puts it this way: Lower working-age mortality is associated with state policies that invested more in human capital, focused on family investments, and promoted economic opportunity in an equitable way. Higher working-age mortality was associated with policies that put an emphasis on “helping the private sector to thrive in hopes that the economic gains would trickle down to those who need more assistance.”

He continues, “These alternative approaches to public policy have various benefits and harms, and those differ based on which interest group you represent,” Woolf said. “We can make an intentional choice that we’re willing to live shorter lives in order to preserve the benefits we get from those policies, but it should be an informed decision.”

Why am I sharing this?

For almost a decade, On Pasture has been all about providing you with science-based information to help you live long and prosper. Promoting policies that help us live longer, happier lives, is important to me. I hope it’s important to you too.

Thanks for reading,


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