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Life Expectancy in South Sudan
Life expectancy in South Sudan is relatively low compared to other countries. According to the estimates made by the World Health Organization (WHO), the population of South Sudan was 12,801,237 people by the end of 2015 (“South Sudan”). During the mentioned year, it is increased by approximately 536 thousand people. Considering that the population of South Sudan at the beginning of 2015 was estimated at 12,340,568 people, the annual increase is about four percent. The number of men and women increased approximately equally. There were about six million people under the age of 15, seven million people over the age of 14 and under the age of 65, and 350 thousand people over 64 years of age (“3. Population by sex, the annual rate of population increase, surface area and density”). The age pyramid of South Sudan has a progressive or growing type that is characteristic of developing countries.
Demographics of South Sudan is characterized by a relatively short life expectancy due to high mortality and fertility, which are primarily caused by poor health care and education as well as war conditions. Namely, the average life expectancy in the given country is 59 years in females and 56 years in males (“South Sudan”). The civil war in South Sudan lasts about four years. Data on the victims vary, but they are estimated in hundreds of thousands. More than 1.5 million people were forced to leave the country, and over 80 percent of them were women and children (“3. Population by sex, the annual rate of population increase, surface area and density”). The duration of a healthy life, the period during which a person’s quality of life will not decrease because of the development of certain diseases, is also growing. However, due to poor living conditions, the time span of severe health disorders as well as disability in people is raising. The main causes of these disorders are heart disease, pulmonary infections, and strokes.
Income Distribution and Life Expectancy
The recent study by Chetty et al. shows the increasing gap in the standard of living of the poorest and richest residents of the United States, while the high income increases the life expectancy of the population (1759). The authors compared the life expectancy of one percent of Americans with different incomes and came to negative conclusions (Chetty et al. 1759). The richest Americans live significantly longer than the poorest residents of the country do: among men, this difference was 14.6 years, among women – 10.1 years (Chetty et al. 1760).
In the study, the researchers processed 1.4 billion anonymous tax returns and combined data on the income of the US residents with death statistics in each of the US states for the period from 1999 to 2014 (Chetty et al. 1762). While one considers income inequality in the US, it is clear that low-income Americans cannot afford to buy the same homes, living in the same neighborhoods, and receiving services as Americans with high incomes. However, the fact that they can expect to live on average 10 or 15 years less shows the level of inequality that has arisen in the United States.
The mentioned study also illustrates that this gap is growing every year as well as the average life expectancy in the country. Over the past 15 years, the life span of the upper and lower five percent in the income table has increased disproportionately. Namely, for those who earn more than $100 thousand, life has become noticeably longer – almost two and a half years for men and almost three years for women. At the same time, Americans with incomes below $29 thousand a year could not notice significant improvements as they will live 0,4 years longer on average (Rasella et al. 464). Consistent with the role of income distribution in the US, the low-income population in South Sudan has a low life expectancy. This is largely associated with armed conflicts occurring on an ethical basis.
Given that the state is populated by representatives of a number of ethnic groups that claim to be of paramount importance in the country or are offended that other ethnic groups are in power, it is evident that South Sudan became the arena of the internecine struggle of opposing ethnic groups after the proclamation of independence. Arabi and Abdalla argue that the most serious confrontation unfolded in 2013-2014 between Nuer and Dinka peoples (43). According to international organizations, only in the period from the end of December 2013 to February 2014, 863 thousand civilians in South Sudan have become refugees, while at least 3.7 million people are in dire need of food (Arabi and Abdalla 44). All the efforts of international mediators to ensure the conduct of the negotiation process between the opponents end unsuccessfully since there are uncontrolled groups that continue the further escalation of violence.
Ways to Increase Life Expectancy
As stated by the United Nations, the standard of living is a system of several indicators, among which there are health care, demographic conditions, food, clothing, consumption and accumulation funds, employment, education, social security, etc. (Ho 465). The standard of living reflects the degree of development and satisfaction of the needs of a person living in a given country (Chetty et al. 1762). In general, people with low income tend to smoke more, have inadequate access to health care, and work under inappropriate conditions. The average life expectancy of people with low income is interrelated with the proportion of immigrants and college graduates. Therefore, the first way to improve the dependence of life expectancy on income is additional money to be allocated for health care services, and these funds are to be used much more efficiently than the main budget expenditures for this sphere.
Much attention to be paid to improving health care services and large hospital complexes are to be introduced in the countries. In many regions, salaries of doctors, clinics, and hospitals should be improved and equipped with modern appliances (Ho 464). Along with stability and the annual increase in funding, it is possible to suggest that political measures are needed to reduce this gap between the life expectancy of low-income and high-income populations.
Second, the life expectancy correlates with the behavior of a person with respect to one’s own health – for example, with smoking. At the same time, the quality of primary health care, labor market conditions, and psychological environment do not show a significant correlation. Ho notes that the results of the study do not indicate a direct causal relationship and cannot be interpreted unambiguously (466). For example, it is stated that it is difficult to explain whether wealth affects the health of people or vice versa, while health is an important condition for the accumulation of wealth. Most likely, this is a complex interaction of various factors, which requires further research.
Third, social and financial factors also play an important role in increasing life expectancy. The improvement in lifestyle leads on average to an additional two months of life of the population, and the increase in personal income is likely to lead to the same result. Education is another essential factor in increasing life expectancy. People with education above the school curriculum live six years longer than those who studied only at school (Chetty et al. 1761). Education accounts for approximately ten percent of the difference in deaths of people as they are more informed about the risks and consequences of running a particular way of life.
More importantly, such people smoke less, drink less alcohol, control their nutrition, do sports, and try to live in a more environmentally friendly environment. Nevertheless, discussing ups and downs along with pros and cons, one should clarify that income growth has less effect on life expectancy than its reduction. As soon as income is reduced, it is more difficult for a person to maintain his or her habitual standard of living and monitor health. A one-time improvement in income leads to more risky behavior such as drug and alcohol use, and so on.
To conclude, one should emphasize that income significantly affects the life expectancy of populations. Having compared data of the US and South Sudan, one should note that the former presents more people with a high income, whose life expectancy is longer than those of the residents of South Sudan. While wealthy people are expected to live longer than those with low income, their chances depend on the place of residence and lifestyles. People with high income not only take the information into account but also they are ready to act and make decisions based on the information received. Political, social, and economic improvements should be made to increase life expectancy rates based on adequate access to health care, education, and working environment.
Arabi, Khalafalla Ahmed Mohamed, and Suliman Zakaria Suliman Abdalla. “The Impact of Human Capital on Economic Growth: Empirical Evidence from Sudan.” Research in World Economy, vol. 4, no. 2, 2013, pp. 43-53.
Chetty, Raj, et al. “The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014.” JAMA, vol. 315, no. 16 , 2016, pp. 1750-1766.
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Ho, Jessica Y. “Mortality Under Age 50 Accounts for much of the Fact That US Life Expectancy Lags that of Other High-Income Countries.” Health Affairs, vol. 32, no. 3, 2013, pp. 459-467.
Rasella, Davide, et al. “Impact of Income Inequality on Life Expectancy in a Highly Unequal Developing Country: The Case of Brazil.” Journal of Epidemiology Community Health, vol. 67, no. 8, 2013, pp. 661-666.
“South Sudan.” WHO, 2017, Web.