A New Year’s Resolution For The United States: Let’s Reverse Our Declining Life Expectancies

Can an entire nation make a resolution when starting a new year? Given the current degree of polarization in the United States, it may be productive to encourage the American people to agree on a common goal for 2018.

If we agree to do so, here’s a suggestion for a suitable resolution. Perhaps we can strive to reverse our declining life spans.

Declining life spans? Isn’t that the type of problem that is found in emerging nations? Aren’t modern economies experiencing increases in life spans instead?

Generally, yes, but there are exceptions. The most extreme one may be Russia, which has experienced declining life expectancies since the fall of the Soviet Union. Alcohol-related heart disease is to blame for much of the decline, although other causes have contributed to it as well.

Recently, though, the Russian health system appears to be making progress. Conversely, the United States appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

Indeed, for the past two years, the world’s largest economy has actually experienced declines in life spans. The primary cause is the opioid epidemic, which has reached crisis proportions in many sectors of the American population.

Many of the Republican senators who threatened to vote against their party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act voiced concern about opioid addicts losing access to medical treatment services. Had those services been eliminated, it’s possible that life expectancies in the United States would have declined further.

That’s not to say, of course, that the Affordable Care Act is perfectly designed to address the opioid crisis. Indeed, if we citizens of the United States were to adopt the reversal of the decline in life expectancies as our New Year’s Resolution, we’d be compelled to develop new approaches to manage the brutal epidemic.

And if we eventually achieve our jointly shared goal? For starters, we’d live longer. And we’d also develop a fair amount of sorely needed social cohesion in the process.