FESTIVAL OF ECONOMICS
Differences in the health and life expectancy of the population are even more marked than differences in levels of income. In terms of purchasing power, Gabon has an average income a third higher than the average in the United States, but in Gabon, 5 children out of 100 live births die before they reach the age of one, whereas in America the figure is 5 out of 1000. There are also profound differences in terms of life expectancy within the United States: those who are born and live in rural areas, the electorate giving the victory to Donald Trump, live on average up to 30 years less than those who live in large cities. Gender differences are also emerging in an increasingly clear manner: women live longer than men, but they are more likely to suffer from diseases causing pain and invalidity. In developed countries health inequality could increase considerably with the ageing of the population, if one considers that recent estimates have estimated a growth of around 80% in expenditure for the care of non self-sufficient elderly people suffering from cognitive decline or Alzheimer's. Health cover and the quality of care play an important but nevertheless limited role in these differences: it is not sufficient to introduce universal free health care programmes in order to remove variations in life expectancy.
As in previous editions of the festival, the debate will benefit from interaction with scientists from other disciplines, on this occasion with particular attention for so-called hard science, on which the extraordinary progress of medicine in the last 50 years has after all depended. Tito Boeri Scientific Director of the Festival of Economics