I’ve moved a lot from place to place all throughout my life, and I am quite used to dealing with cultural differences, social protocols, a diverse set of rules and divergent perspectives of right and wrong. I’ve dealt with cultural differences about the same way I deal with different people, respecting their peculiarities and seeking to get to know them better, in order to comprehend. I’ve learned to live in different places, with a lot or no resources at all, rich and poor countries, and also everything in between.
When you study Economics, the world suddenly becomes a geographic representation of indexes. It is almost automatic, you look to a map and you suddenly visualize GDP, population, life expectancy, literacy, GINI, Human Development Index, …, a set of numbers that can tell you living conditions of a certain place on the globe. But no index has hit me so hard as life expectancy.
When you are born somewhere, there is the amount of years an average citizen is expected to live, and this depends on a number of factors, such as diet, medical access, public information, prophylactic methods, all for the average citizen. We talk so much about the average person we forget this average person has a little bit of all of us. I am now 24 years old, and out of my four grandparents, only one still lives. When I look at the grandparents of my friends from more developed countries, they are almost all alive, and sometimes even their great grandparents are also alive. Indexes aren’t only numbers, but they are the symptom of our generic life style.
When I look back at my grandparents’ lives, I can’t tell exactly where those years they didn’t live went. I just know the average citizen had something of them, and they also passed away.
I watched this Nike advertisement below, and the question all throughout the video is – What would you do if you had five extra years?
According to the video, this will be the first generation in which kids will tend to live less than their parents did, due mainly to bad diet and lack of exercises. But as I transpose the analysis to difference among countries rather than among generations, the scenario is as seen on the map below, of World life expectancy:
What would each of the Brazilian people do, if we could reach the life expectancy of developed countries? Would we be open to work for longer? Would we enjoy our lives as much as if they didn’t live as long? Would we teach our grandchildren and great-grandchildren about what we’ve learned in our lives? I wish my grandparents had seen me graduate from college, and get to meet the children I will one day bring into this world, and I would like to contribute somehow for the life of the average citizen, who lives inside us all.