A well-known Dutch saying is: "Money does not make you happy". Most people would agree with that. However, you cannot turn the saying around: "If you are happy, you don't need money." You need money to eat, to live and to send your children to school. And if you are sick, you are happy to have some money to pay for medicine.
One of the main reasons why people are living longer is the strong improvement in healthcare. The inventions of vaccines and antibiotics have significantly increased life expectancy. Life expectancy in the Netherlands in 1900 was 44 years, in 2000 it was 78 years. If this development continues, babies born in 2050 will have a life expectancy of more than 100 years.
Worldwide life expectancy (LE) is different:
|89||Monaco||68||Myanmar, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Timor Leste|
|85||Japan, Macao, Singapore||67||Ghana, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu|
|83||Andorra, Hong Kong, Israel, San Marino, Iceland, Switzerland, South Korea||66||Yemen|
|82||Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden||65||Cambodia, Comoros, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Laos, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo|
|81||Belgium, Cayman Islands, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom||64||Djibouti, Haïti, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa|
|80||Denmark, Taiwan, United States of America||63||Botswana, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mauritania, Tanzania, Western Sahara|
|79||Albania, Bahrain, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Panama, Portugal, Qatar||62||Benin, Malawi, Senegal|
|78||Dominican Republic, Falkland, Kuwait, Lebanon, New Caledonia, Poland, Saint Lucia, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates||61||Burundi, Guinea|
|77||Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, Libya, Morocco, Paraguay, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay||60||Angola, Congo (People's Republic of), Mali, Zimbabwe|
|76||Barbados, China, Columbia, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Oman, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, St Kitts and Nevis, Tonga, Tunisia, Venezuela||59||Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone|
Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Romania, Seychelles, Syria, Thailand, Turkey
|58||Congo (Democratic Republic of)|
|74||Brazil, Iran, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Peru, Samoa, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam||56||Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda|
|73||Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belarus, Egypt, Fiji, Greenland, Guatemala, Indonesia, Palau, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago||54||Mozambique, Nigeria|
|72||Cape Verde, Ukraine||53||Central African Republic, Lesotho, Somalia, Zambia|
|71||Bhutan, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal, North Korea, Russia||52||Afghanistan, Gabon, Ngwane|
|70||Mongolia, Turkmenistan||51||Chad, Guinea-Bissau|
|69||Belize, Guyana, India, Philippines|
Inequalities in life expectancy occur not only between countries but also within countries. Poverty is the biggest risk factor for health. Rich people in the Netherlands live an average of 84.4 years. People who rely on food banks live to an average of 77.0 years. A difference of almost 7.5 years!
Ed van Dijk had a heavy job and was declared disabled for 40% because of his worn out back and joints. He is on welfare and is a diabetic. A nutritionist told him he should eat more fruit and vegetables, but he cannot afford to do so. Unhealthy food is simply much cheaper. A bag of cashews is twice as expensive as a bag of chips. Fruit and fish prices have risen much faster than sweets and ice cream over the past 20 years.
Ed has a rich friend. He goes to concerts and to the pub and he knows everyone in the village. Ed has been to the pub once in the past year and doesn't know anyone anymore. The loneliness eats away at him and he suffers from stress because of his deteriorating health. He gives his own life at best a meagre six (but actually less). His wealthy friend gives a mark that is more in line with the average of 7.5 that can be found in the World Happiness Report (2019).
3) Medicine plays an important role in the increased life expectancy. But there are more factors. What other factors can you think of that contribute to life expectancy? Name at least two of them.
4) Because of the increase in prosperity, are there also factors that have a negative effect on life expectancy? What are they?
5) Look at the list of countries with life expectancies. What stands out most?
6) What relationship do you see between the list of countries with life expectancies and the World Happiness Report?