Who Are The Mortacracies? Part IV

December 7, 2008

<first published on May 4, 2006] So far, I have suggested that mortacracies be defined by their democide (Part I), and also by their LE—the life expectancy of a people from birth—(Part II), and their LE within the context of a peoples’ HDI—general well being—(Part III). While some free countries may have a very low HDI and LE that they inherited from their previous rapacious thug regimes, I expect that their very low LE will be moving upward. And those thug regimes whose people have moderately high LEs should show them falling as the regime’s rapaciousness and corruption affects the people’s well being.

So, what does the difference in LEs for all countries look like for a reasonable length of time, such as nine years? I calculated this for the difference in LE between 1998 and 2006 and got for this period an average world increase in LEs of 1.6 years (median of 1.8 years), with a standard deviation of 4.4. I then converted the differences to standard scores, which makes comparing these changes from one country to another much easier. The average of the standard scores then = 0, with a standard deviation =1. The plot of these standardized differences is quite revealing, as shown below (if it is unclear or does not show, click here):

The best fitting curve to the plot is the fifth degree polynomial shown, which has a squared correlation of R^2 = .95, and thus accounts for 95 percent of the variance. To best understand this chart, you should know that a standardized difference of -2.0 is two standard deviations below the average of 0. Now, in the plot the changes in LE hover around the average at the standardized difference of zero, and then plummet. Those countries whose changes in LE thus fall below the average at least by one standard deviation are obvious candidates to be mortacracies. They are listed along with their freedom scores in the table below. Differences are ranked ordered high to low (if it is unclear or does not show, click here):

The column of Z differences, are the standardized differences (Z customarily stands for a standardized variable).

Among the 18 countries with LEs falling by at least one standard deviation, five are free for 1998 and 2006. I have discussed Botswana and South Africa in PART III, but now we have Dominica, Nauru, and Grenada. While Dominica is relativel high in LE at 77.8 for 1998, it has undergone considerable financial difficulties, a downturn in the market for its major crop of bananas, a resulting 20 percent unemployment, and destructive hurricanes. All this has required the democratic government to impose harsh austerity measures.

The 8-square mile island republic of Nauru also had a relatively high LE of 66.7 in 1998. The country has been undergoing a severe political crises, and the increasing loss of the major source of its income, which is phosphate mining. Its phosphate beds are almost entirely exhausted. To make matters worse, over 80 percent of the island is uninhabitable, which means that with phosphate almost gone, there is little land on which to develop exportable crops.

Finally, there is Grenada, which while avoiding hurricanes for 49 years, has been devastated by two of them in recent years. In November 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed around 80 percent of Grenada’s infrastructure and left 90 percent of its homes in ruins. Then in July of 2005, Hurricane Emily struck causing USD $110 million in destruction, or 1/4th of its gross domestic product.

As shown by the different colors, the remaining 13 countries are not free, partly free, or have changed from one classification to another over the five years. Many of these meet well our understanding of what a mortacracy is, such as Afghanistan before the American invasion, Angola, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

What country has had its LE change the greatest over the five years? North Korea, so the statistics tell us. Its LE jumped from 51.3 in 1998 to 71.65 in 2006, or an increase of over 4 standard deviations, and the largest increase in the world. It is that highest blue dot standing alone on the left in the above plot of these changes. If you believe these statistics, however, than I want to tell you about how good a tennis player I am.

An article in The Korean Times “Life Expectancy in NK Falls” has this to say about the North’s LE:

“North Korea’s life expectancy dropped by 5.5 years to 67.2 years in 2002 from 1993….”The decreases in the average life span seem to result from deaths by famine occurred in between 1995 and 1998,” the South’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said. “As of 2003, the North’s life expectancy was estimated at 64.9 years for males and 69.3 years for females, some 11-12 years shorter than that of the South.” …. “The maternal death ratio was some three to four times higher than the South,’ said an official at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affaires in the South.”

In Parts I-III and here I have now defined several different lists of mortacracies. In Part V on Monday, I will present a definitive list based on all this research, and then deal with the question as to what can be done about these thug regimes that enslave their people, murder them, and hasten their death.

Links of Note

“Longer Life in the USA”:

“This decline in [American] death rates was so big it offset the increase in population, so the number of total deaths actually dropped by about 50,000 to 2,398,343 in 2004 from 2,448,288 recorded for 2003. Declines are rare — the last one was in 1997 — and this one was huge — the biggest decline in 6 decades. The important thought to take away from this news is the fact that we’re not reaching any limits on life expectancy — the preliminary estimate of life expectancy at birth for the total population in 2004 rose again to reach a record high of 77.9 years….”

“Life expectancy at birth (2003)”: Colored Maps showing countries at specified levels of life expectancy.

“Big fall in African life expectancy”:

“The Aids crisis has slashed the life expectancy in some parts of Africa to less than 33 years, according to the UN’s Human Development Report 2004.”

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