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Chapter 4:

Life expectancy and health

                       

 

P. 52 and fig. 16 with note 366: FLAW

"This does not mean that life expectancy for sub-Saharan Africa declines however." Flaw: As reference for this statement, Lomborg uses data from 1999. According to his note 366, however, he has also consulted UNDP´s report for 2000. He notes that this shows only very slight differences from earlier reports. However, these "very slight differences" are important. Before the onset of the AIDS epidemic, the estimated life expectancy for subsaharan Africa had just reached 50 years. 50 years is a crucial figure, because experience is that above this threshold value, parents begin to trust in the survival of their kids, and restrict themselves to having fewer kids, which in turn allows more prosperity per capita, better health conditions, and hence, increased life expectancy, which again pushes the development further into the right direction.. In short, a "good circle" starts. However, during the 1990s, there was a slight indication of a backlash to 49 years of life expectation. In the data from 2000, which Lomborg has seen, this had declined further to probably 47 years, and the data for 2001 say 46 years (www.worldbank.org/data). Thus, the trend looks lie a true backlash now. We come further and further away from the 50 years where the "good circle" starts, which means that it will probably last for quite some time before a good trend turns up again. It is likely that the stippled curve in figure 16 will rise only much later than indicated. Considering that Lomborg did see the disappointing 2000 data from UNDP (and from the World bank), and considering that he is eager to criticize others who misinterpret a trend because the have missed the newest data (e.g. p. 10 right), Lomborg´s neglect of the recent trend is not acceptable. As he has seen the recent figures that do not fit him, but has neglected them, this flaw must be deliberate.