Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Demographics, Statistics, and Misplaced Outrage

Technorati--a top-notch resource, btw--currently features an article bemoaning the US ranking in infant mortality. The writer takes it as a given that these rankings are compiled fairly and in the same manner, and that those responsible for doing the compiling have equal data and access in all places.

Total nonsense.

That's not to say there's no value in these rankings, that they're not reflective of reality. They are. But they're not absolute truths, either. And they don't take into account demographics, at all.

Apparently, the US currently ranks around no. 40, out of the 193 nations in the WHO. Not great. Not awful, either. But what's the likelihood of a mother going to term with a pregnancy in all of these nations? What's the average age of a mother? The range of ages of all mothers in each nation? What about immigration rates? How many nations have an influx of immigrants--legal or otherwise--from nations with poor health conditions?

And to what extent are medical services provided to see that a woman can go to term, to try to deliver a baby alive and to keep it alive? I could go on and on. It happens with other things, too. For instance, one might find a ranking of nations with regard to the most reported rapes. Can we assume that the nation at the top of the list has the most rapes? No, of course not. It might have the least, but has done the best job of educating its citizens on what constitutes rape and how to report it.

All of these things are ignored, in favor of a simple list, ranking countries from "best" to "worst." And now, questioning these things is deemed to be outrageous and disingenuous, as a matter of course.

Cheers, all.


  1. I think that the issue is more that we shouldn't even be at 40. The US has advanced technology, extremely educated doctors, etc therefore being ranked so low is an issue. The question becomes where is all the money going and do the health insurance agencies/ health institutions have our best interests in mind. I do you like your counterview thought!

  2. Well sure, we can do better. Who couldn't, really? But you know, a friend of mine ran the pediatric cardio unit at a hospital for a number of years. It's amazing to me, the effort and money that goes into saving the lives of little babies born with various problems. And children came from outside the US to this hospital, as well. So, there are some things missing, not being considered in these rankings, that's what I'm saying. Thanks for the input!