We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
So when there was once a bimodal distribution of mortality - infancy and youth, and then old age, now there is only one. All of those deaths in youth skew average or median statistics to the point of meaninglessness. Antibiotics and immunization have made a huge difference.
Regarding infant mortality, it is difficult to compare the rates across countries because it depends on at what point the medical system declares an infant viable. In the US, where almost every infant is viewed as possibly viable, many more infancy deaths are named as such than in other places. It's the same phenomenon that rates Sloan-Kettering (cancer) hospital the worst hospital in the US. Many of their patients do not survive, obviously, despite possibly being the best cancer center in the world.
After the huge effect of public health, immunization, and antibiotics, medical advances have accomplished remarkable things in improving the function and independence of the elder cohort even though I have seen no stats to measure and compare this. In some ways, this is more valuable than life span alone. A generation or two ago you never saw people in their 80s playing tennis, skiing, or hiking up Mt. Washington. Now, it's common in the US (not so much in Europe).
The blessing we all have now, whether we are the half who live past the mid-late 70s, or the half who do not, is the opportunity to live what we're given with as much richness and independence as possible.
John Snow also had a major effect of life expectancy, especially ion cities like London.
My great grandparents had 12 children who all lived into adulthood and, except for one who died of appendicitis at age 40, all lived into old age. However, they were a farm family. Cities were population sinks until the 20th century,.
Just as asthma is a modern disease of cleanliness, water killed millions. In fact, I think the English adoption of tea drinking was to drink boiled water.
Is asthma a modern disease of cleanliness? That is claimed by some. But there is more evidence that asthma is a modern disease caused by saving more children from dying of childhood disease. Many children with marginal health or poor immune systems. These children were weeded out years ago but today they survive but often are not healthy.
This is exactly the same phenomenon that makes the U.S. look like they have a lot of crime and shootings. If you only count the crime and shooting done by Americans of European descent our crime rate is less than most first world countries including Canada. That is why some people will claim that illegal immigrants commit less crime than American citizens do. They commit crimes about twice the rate of white Americans but the stats are skewed by the extremely high crime rate of African Americans.
I don’t believe modern feminists, of the sort who wish more “great artists” through history had been women, fully appreciate how many women died in childbirth before the advent of modern patriarchal medicine.
I know I never did until it nearly happened to me.