To live the longest and healthiest life possible, get smarter. IHME data show that past a certain threshold, health and wealth (as indicated by female adult mortality rate, vertical axis, and per capita gross domestic product, or GDP, horizontal axis) are just weakly correlated. However, overall health is closely tied to how many years people spend in school (indicated by circle size). Mexico, for instance, has a fifth the per capita GDP of the United States, but, for women, more than 50 percent of the latter’s schooling.
In line with the trend, Mexico’s female adult mortality rate is only narrowly higher. Vietnam and Yemen have roughly equivalent per capita GDP. Yet Vietnamese women average 6.3 more years in school and are half as likely to die between the ages of 15 and 60. Outliers are Switzerland and Zimbabwe, with one of the world’s lowest and highest female adult mortality rates, respectively, and a 200-fold difference in per capita GDP. “Economic growth is also significantly associated with child mortality reductions, but the magnitude of the association is much smaller than that of increased education,” comments Emmanuela Gakidou, IHME’s director of education and training. “One year of schooling gives you about 10 percent lower mortality rates, whereas with a 10 percent increase in GDP, which is huge, China has achieved it for a few years, your mortality rate would go down only by 1 to 2 percent.”
Also explore the interactive version of the visualization for the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in relation to GDP, education, neonatal mortality, skilled birth attendance, and total fertility rate by country (Global), 1980-2008.