Democracies Top Dictatorships for Public Health, New Study Finds

(Bloomberg) -- People lived longer in countries that became democracies from 1970 to 2015, and that system of government played a bigger role in public health than economic performance, according to a report published in The Lancet.

The report, published Wednesday, found that democratic governance is associated with declines in “cardiovascular disease mortality and road deaths, as well as increases in government health spending,” boosting life expectancy by an average of three percent after 10 years.

“The results of this study suggest that elections and the health of the people are increasingly inseparable,” said Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, who led the research.

“Global health advocacy groups need to do more than clamor for more funding and occasionally bemoan corruption,” said Professor Helen Epstein from Bard College, adding that they need to urge officials in Washington, Brussels and London “to impose sanctions on dictators, including those who cooperate with western military aims.”

Researchers reviewed disease burdens, health spending estimates and information on regime types in 170 countries over the past 46 years, as part of a study conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Stanford University School of Medicine, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Bilkent University in Ankara.

The study was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bloomberg Philanthropies is the charitable arm of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

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