Large slum, poor living conditions.

Quand l'inégalité tue

NEW YORK – C'est cette semaine que Angus Deaton va recevoir un prix Nobel d'économie  bien mérité pour "son analyse sur la consommation, la pauvreté et la protection sociale". Peu après l'annonce de cette distinction, il publiait avec Ann Case dans les Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences une recherche dont les conclusions sont des plus surprenantes – et qui mérite au moins autant de publicité que la cérémonie de remise des prix Nobel.

Analysant une énorme quantité de données se rapportant à la santé et aux causes de décès des Américains, Case et Deaton ont montré que l'espérance de vie et la santé des Blancs américains d'âge moyen déclinent, notamment pour ceux qui n'ont pas fait d'études supérieurs. Suicide, drogue et alcoolisme en sont les principales causes.

L'Amérique se félicite d'être l'un des pays les plus riches de la planète et elle peut se vanter d'avoir vu chaque année (à l'exception de 2009) son PIB par habitant augmenter. Or la santé et la longévité sont supposées être des signes de prospérité. Mais alors que les dépenses de santé par habitant y sont plus élevées que presque partout ailleurs dans le monde (et encore plus élevées en terme de part du PIB), elle est loin d'être en tête en ce qui concerne l'espérance de vie. Ainsi la France dépense moins de 12% de son PIB pour la santé – contre 17% aux USA – mais l'espérance de vie des Américains est inférieure de 3 ans à celle des Français.

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