Free markets helping people live longer lives

Freedom New Mexico

Some good news for a change: Childhood deaths are dropping worldwide.

The number of deaths of children under age 5 has been cut by 35 percent in the past 20 years, to 7.7 million. The lower world rate now is 53.3 childhood deaths out of 1,000 children.

The best rate, in Singapore, is 2.5 per 1,000. The worst rate is 180.1 per 1,000, in Equatorial Guinea.

The research comes from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “In 13 regions of the world, including all regions in sub-Saharan Africa, there is evidence of accelerating declines,” noted a summary by the university.

“Within sub-Saharan Africa, rates of decline have sped up by at least a full percentage point over the past decade compared to the previous decade in 14 countries, including Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.”

According to a PBS summary, the study’s authors attributed the decline to “immunization, insecticide-treated bednets for malaria prevention, treatment to prevent mother-child HIV transmission and antiretroviral drugs.”

The other engine of this progress is the spread of free markets in the past three decades, according to Stephen Moore, an economist and co-author of “It’s Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years.”

He pointed to how China and India, combined, in just the past 30 years have brought 500 million people out of poverty. In addition, he said, “A lot of Asian countries have moved toward capitalism, although not as fast as we would like to see.”

And free-market gains have been seen in Africa as well.

He pointed out that free markets clearly bring greater prosperity than socialism. And more prosperity translates into higher health standards. After all, it costs money for the things the study said contributed to the decline.

In the University of Washington study, America’s death rate also dropped in recent decades. But its overall ranking, compared to other nations, got worse. We used to have the 29th-best rate; now it’s 42nd.

Moore attributed that, in part, to much more accurate U.S. health statistics. He said many countries do not count the death of a child during childbirth. “If every country used the same statistical method, we would look better,” he said.