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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A simplistic denunciation of the simplistic simpletons at the Weekly standard.

Look feel and be 28 years younger-.
I'm glad (ecstatic) to learn that I am only two decades old !

Kerry Howley says it is good that China is much less poor than it was. She also notes that Cinese live much longer than they used to. She is a bit vague on timing.

"A Chinese person born in 1960 could expect to live until 41, give or take. Kids born today will, on average, live 30 years longer. No other society has ever undergone such a dramatic transformation in two decades."

Sad to say, 2008-1960 = 48 > 20. The huge increase in Chinese life expectancy did not occur in the past two decades (nor in the 30 years since 1978). In 1978 the PRC was very poor and had life expectancy much longer than 41 years (65 IIRC). The experience of the PRC 60 to 78 then 78 to 2008 shows how different the path of wealth and health can be.

Now part of what is going on is that 1960 was the year of the biggest famine the world has ever seen. An advantage of Democracy is that it appears (so far) to be inconsistent with utter idiocies on the level of the great leap forward. Thus treating 1960 as given is utterly insanely charitable to chairman Mao.

On the other hand, health progress from a normal non famine year to 1978 was extraordinary. Aside from the recovery from the horrors of 1960, the PRC reached a level of life expectancy which was surprisingly high given conditions in 1948 say. This led reluctant people* to admit that there were advantages to a command economy without a price mechanism let alone free prices. As many people my age know, the surprising health of people in the PRC had a lot to do with "barefoot doctors" who were essentially conscripted (as everyone was in the PRC). The market reforms which allowed the PRC to become rich are correlated with a reduction in the relative health performance of the PRC (life expectancy kept growing but at a normal not the previous high rate let alone the huge rate one would naively guess if one ignored the generally different paths of health and wealth).

It's not just Democracy. It's not just Democracy and wealth. The world is complicated.

* I'm one and there must be others. I can't certify the reluctance anyone else.

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