Health equality in the US and Scandinavia

March 16, 2016 Weekly Graphs

Senator Sanders has claimed that the US could learn from countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway in terms of what they have accomplished for their citizens. One of the senator’s main policy points is a more equal healthcare system in the United States. Sanders’ statement inspires for exploration of the differences between Scandinavia and the US in this aspect. This week’s graph tracks the development of high quality basic healthcare in the United States, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The V-Dem dataset contains an indicator that measures health equality. The indicator expresses to what extent high quality basic healthcare is guaranteed to all and sufficient to enable people to exercise their basic political rights as adult citizens.

The figure shows that the gap between the United States and the Scandinavian countries has been growing larger since the early 1950s. The current US rating barely reaches 3, meaning that because of poor-quality healthcare, ten to 25 percent of the citizens’ ability to exercise their political rights as adult citizens is undermined. By contrast, the Scandinavian countries as all achieve a score of 4, which implies that basic health care is equal in quality and less than five percent of citizens cannot exercise their basic political rights as adults.

In 2010, Obamacare was put in effect. This ambitious plan promised more equality in the US basic healthcare system. It will be interesting to see if this leads to noticeable changes in future versions of this graph. 

health equality us.png

Back to article list