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Declining life expectancy in the U.S.

Williams and Bitton explore declining life expectancy in America and assess the state of health care in the country (Video: The Washington Post)

Recent studies have underscored the decline of life expectancy in the United States over the last two years, with Americans today expecting to live as long as they did back in 1996. Michelle A. Williams, dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs, join The Post’s Frances Stead Sellers to assess what’s driving these numbers, how America compares to its peer countries and the state of health care in the nation.

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“It’s that contingency that doesn’t allow everyone to not only have access to preventative care, but really all the upstream factors… clean air, clean water, a place to live, good education, good food. We have a wonderful sick-care system that takes care of very sick people, but a very inadequate health-care system.” – Asaf Bitton (Video: Washington Post Live)
“We’re seeing that these causes of premature death disproportionately [affect] low-income and Black people. The intersectionality of poverty and of race has never been as strong as in the causes of maternal mortality in a very, very long time.” – Michelle A. Williams (Video: Washington Post Live)
“Providing population health and primary health care to all who need it should not be seen as charity. It should be seen as a strategic pillar of economic investment and social resilience in our country.” – Michelle A. Williams (Video: Washington Post Live)
“We spend 20 percent of our GDP on health care and it’s only going up and up. And yet we’re having falling life expectancy. That equation doesn’t continue forever and ever, those pressure become real, we have a working age population that’s not healthy enough to really sustain us into this next decade, so we have that looming.” – Asaf Bitton (Video: Washington Post Live)

Asaf Bitton

Executive Director, Ariadne Labs

Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Michelle A. Williams

Dean of Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health