Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life Expectancy

On planet earth, life expectancy ranges from a high of 86 years in Japan to a low of 46 years in Sierra Leone. Poverty, with its unfortunate companions of hunger, poor nutrition, tainted water, and lack of medical care, are major contributing causes in many African countries. In the USA, that average age is considered young; many in their forties still resemble youthful thirty-somethings.

Longevity in Japan is more mysterious; having been massively radiated twice in WWII and with the Fukushima disaster, Japan's exposure to nuclear fallout might have caused a dent in this stellar number, but apparently not.

The word "expectancy" raises an interesting question. Living in Los Angeles, one would "expect" to live well into old age barring an incurable fatal illness or accident. Thus, one of the luxuries of First World natives are considerations such as long term care insurance and the choice of old age facilities.

With the reality of life expectancy so vastly different from place to place, it makes one wonder: does a cultural perception differ if everyone in that society lives into their forties versus their eighties? Is it normal for a Sierra Leonian to feel justified that they have lived out their time without feeling that it is premature, compared to the Japanese? Do they wonder what life would be like if they could double their time on planet earth?


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