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Surprising Science

Study: Canadians Live Longer, Healthier Lives Than Yanks

Canadians live not only longer, but healthier lives than their American counterparts, according to a study in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Metrics. Canadians and Americans share a common border, our standards of living are very similar, and our health care providers have comparable levels of training. The U.S. spends significantly more on health care as a percentage of GDP. Canada spends significantly more on poutine as a percentage of GDP.

We already know that Canadians have slightly higher life expectancies at birth. A Canadian born in 2009 has a life expectancy of 81.23 years, vs. 78.11 years for an American born the same year. This study set out to measure whether Canadians also enjoy more years of good health, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

The team of American and Canadian researchers analyzed data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health 2002/03, which asks subjects to rate their health on various dimensions of well-being including sight, hearing, mobility, pain, and discomfort. The researchers found that Canadians over 40 have higher Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL). Americans and Canadians under 40 have equal HRQL.

The researchers also found differences in Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE). The average Canadian can expect to live 2.7 more years in “perfect health” than his or her American counterpart.

Unlike the U.S., Canada has universal health care, free at the point of delivery. The authors attribute the differences in HRQL and HALE to enhanced health care access and greater socioeconomic equality in Canada.

So, despite what heard Fox News, “socialized medicine” will not kill you; but tax cuts for the rich might just make you sick.

Photo credit: by flickr user dfrtn, licensed under Creative Commons.


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