Cuba’s long lie expectancy

Communist regimes are known to falsify and distort statistics, but they rarely get away with it unless Western media play along. They scored a big hit recently with data about Cuba's storied life expectancy, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

According to 2007 CIA World Factbook cited by the Associated Press (AP):

  • Cubans live an average of 77.08 years, with men at 74.85 and women at 79.43.
  • But in its praise-filled report, the AP missed that this actually represents a decline in life expectancy.
  • The year before, the average was 77.41 with men at 75.11 and women at 79.89.

    This may reflect that Cubans aren't living in steady conditions through their lifetimes, as much of the media asserts, says IBD. With a 1990 cut-off of aid from the Soviet Union, there has been a huge decline in living standards. Sanitation, housing, food and critical vitamin shortages have all become far worse.

    Nevertheless, the question remains: How do you have a long life expectancy with increasingly deteriorating conditions? You change the way you count, as Cuba has done, says IBD:
  • If a newborn doesn't live more than 24 hours, it often doesn't show up in infant mortality statistics.
  • The figure is depressed even further by abortion; at seven in 10 pregnancies, Cuba's abortion rate is Latin America's highest.
  • Cuba also has one of the world's highest suicide rates, which also doesn't show up in expectancy data.

    Andy S. Gomez, assistant provost of the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, says Cuba's sunny life span numbers seem to conceal another larger issue – the country's rapidly aging population. It has 11.2 million people, and only 2.2 million were born after 1992. If its young people emigrate, Cuba's statistical average life expectancy could be even higher, he said. And that's nothing to brag about.

    Source: Editorial, Cuba's Long Lie Expectancy, Investor's Business Daily, April 27, 2007.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 08 May 2007
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