Santorum and Life Expectancy: U.S. v. China

Candidates are keen to extol the wisdom of America’s founders and the blessings bestowed by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution: free speech, freedom of religion, the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To which Rick Santorum would add: Longer life expectancy.

“I remind everybody, at the time of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, life expectancy in America was about 35 to 40 years of age, just what it was at the time of Jesus Christ,” Santorum told a Feb. 27 rally in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“For 1,800 years of kings and emperors and sovereigns — ruling the people, of course, for their benefit — the human condition didn’t change dramatically, or some would say at all. Then America happened. In 235 years, life expectancy went from 35 to 80, when in 1,800 years it didn’t change,” Santorum said.

What explains that? The former Pennsylvania senator cited “the dynamism of the economy, because of America, because of freedom, because of liberating people to pursue their wants and dreams and to reap the benefits, and not have a government or a leader condemning them for success.”

Which raises a question: What explains the leap in communist China’s average life expectancy, from 43 to 73 years between 1960 and 2009?

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