|Washington Post charts; click on the image to enlarge it.|
Ashish Thakrar, an internal-medicine resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and lead author of the study, writes that "persistently high poverty rates, poor educational outcomes, and a relatively weak social safety net have made the U.S. the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into." U.S. policy decisions could play a big role in those conditions. Policy decisions explain at least 47 percent of the differences in life expectancy between countries, according to a 2010 study. And a 2007 study found that about 20 percent of the difference in infant mortality rates can be explained by policy decisions.
Thakrar "notes that while the U.S. spends more per capita on health care for children than other wealthy nations, it has poorer outcomes than many. In 2013, the United Nations Children's Fund ranked the U.S. 25th in a list of 29 developed countries for overall child health and safety," Ingraham reports.
In the 1960s the U.S. had a much lower childhood mortality rate than the average of 19 other wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, but that began to change in the 1970s and the gap widened dramatically in the 1980s (coinciding with a rise in childhood poverty). The gap today translates to about 20,000 deaths a year. Since 1961, that means about 600,000 deaths. The U.S. has ranked last in the OECD for child mortality since the 1990s, Sarah Kliff reports for Vox.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chart|
The two leading causes of death for 15-to-19- year-olds in the U.S. were motor vehicle accidents and assault by firearm. "Teenagers were twice as likely to die from motor vehicle accidents and 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the U.S. than in other wealthy nations," Thakrar writes. Though overall gun ownership is higher in rural areas of the U.S., urban teens are more likely to die from shootings. But rural drivers are far more likely to die in car wrecks than their suburban and urban counterparts.