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A nurse removing medication from a box. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

In 1979, the U.S. was in the middle of the pack, worldwide, in terms of per capita health care spending and life expectancy. But then in 1980, costs rose while outcomes deteriorated. Health care economist Austin Frakt has some possible answers in the New York Times' Upshot.

Why it happened: Multiple experts told Frakt they think the high inflation of the 1970s contributed to rising health care costs worldwide, but that the U.S. simply had weaker tools in place to constrain those costs.

Then, in the early 80s, that unconstrained growth was further fueled by advances in medical technology, including the rise of bypass surgery and HIV treatment.

Life expectancy: Experts say U.S. life expectancy started to fall after 1980 largely because income inequality began to accelerate and the U.S. didn't keep up with the rest of the world's investments in social safety-net programs.

  • “Social underfunding probably has more long-term implications than underinvestment in medical care,” Johns Hopkins professor Gerard Anderson said.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
30 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.

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