Here’s a fact about China that you may not know: people in Shanghai today have a longer life expectancy than Americans.
A child in Shanghai is expected to live 82 years. In the United States, the figure is not quite 79 years. (For all of China, including rural areas, life expectancy is lower, 73 years — but rising steadily.)
The harsh repression in China these days rightly garners headlines, but health data reflect another side of a nation that could scarcely be more complex and contradictory.
For those who remember Shanghai a quarter-century ago as a dilapidated city where farmers would collect night soil from families without sanitation, it’s extraordinary that among permanent residents of Shanghai, infant mortality is 2.9 deaths per 1,000 births. That is well below the rate of 5.3 in New York City. (Include migrant laborers living in Shanghai, perhaps a fairer comparison, and the rate climbs to a bit higher than in New York.)
That Shanghai child enjoys a world-class education in a public school — the best school system of any in a recent 65-nation survey, although it’s also true that Chinese schools have their own problems such as widespread cheating and stifling of creativity.
Since 1990, the country has reduced infant mortality rates by 54 percent, according to Unicef statistics. On a Chinese scale, that represents more than 360,000 children’s lives saved each year.
Read more at The New York Times