NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

LONG-TERM LIFESTYLE TRENDS PROVE POSITIVE

December 7, 2009

Life expectancy for Americans has never been longer, food has never been cheaper, and the U.S. economy has never been more energy efficient than today.  These are just a few of many long-term trends that demonstrate that the "good old days" are now, and life for the average American keeps getting better and better all the time, says Mark J. Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan-Flint.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Life expectancy for Americans reached an all-time high of nearly 78 years (77.9) in 2007 (most recent data available), the age-adjusted death rate dropped to a new all-time low, and life expectancy for black males reached a new record of 70 years.
  • Compared to the life expectancy in 1929 of only 57.1 years, the average American today can expect to live almost 21 years longer.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • Food expenditures by families and individuals (both at home and at restaurants) as a share of disposable personal income reached an all-time record low of 9.6 percent in 2008.
  • Spending on food as a share of income was twice that high in the 1950s (average of 19.3 percent), and almost three times as high in the early 1930s.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration:

  • The energy consumption required (measured in thousands of British thermal units) to produce a real dollar of output (Gross Domestic Product) fell to an all-time record low of 8.52 in 2008.
  • Compared to 1970 when it took 18 Btus to produce a real dollar of GDP, today's economy is more than twice as energy-efficient.

Source: Mark J. Perry, "Long-term Lifestyle Trends Prove Positive," The American, December 3, 2009.

For text:

http://blog.american.com/?p=7803

For CDC report:

http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2009/r090819.htm 

For additional CDC data:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lifexpec.htm

For Energy Information Administration data:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb0105.html

 

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