Always the critic. This 2-paragraph Globe and Mail squib has a shockingly high error-to-fact ratio.
B.C. life expectancy rises to more than 80
B.C. residents are living longer than ever before, and now have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, according to new statistics.
The province’s vital statistics annual report shows that people born in 2006 can expect to live an average of 80.9 years, compared with 77.4 years for people born a quarter century ago.
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- As I read the report (see Appendix 1, p. 171 of this pdf), 80.9 is actually the average life expectancy for 2002 through 2006, not the figure for 2006 itself. This might seem like a trivial quibble, but…
- This spreadsheet from the BC statistical agency shows that life expectancy topped 81.1 years in 2005—which would make the 80.9 figure a year-to-year decline, not an increase. So I’m assuming that the 80.9 figure—the average from 2002 through 2006—understates the actual figure for 2006. Also…
- The province’s life expectancy topped 80 years in 2000, making the headline old news indeed; and…
- A quarter century ago, BC life expectancy was actually 76.2 years (taking the 5 year average)—which makes current BC life expectancy figures look that much more impressive.
So BC residents are probably living even longer, and have made more progress, than the article suggests. It is true, however, that BC residents have long life expectancies by international standards—which is the whole point of the article, I suppose.
“It is what you would expect to see in a developing country, not here,” said Dr. Majid Ezzati, a Harvard professor and lead author of a study published in the open-access journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
What a contrast. For BC, I have the luxury of chiding the press for understating the good news. But in the US, I feel lucky to get accurate information on just how disappointing recent health trends have been.