Uncertainty about the future, especially about survival, affects human behavior and actual life-course decisions
A team of researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has published a new study examining how violence in a country affects age-at-death uncertainty, also known as lifetime uncertainty, a critical but often Undervalued public health indicators.
Researchers from the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Division of Social Sciences (NYUAD) and the University of Oxford have found cross-country evidence that living in a violent environment is associated with shorter and There is a direct link between less predictable lifespan.
Uncertainty about the future, and especially about survival, affects human behavior and practical life-course decisions, from choosing educational investments, following healthy habits, and even whether to have children.
At the population level, uncertainty in longevity can be measured in terms of distribution or inequality in age at death. In the study, titled “A global assessment of the impact of violence on life uncertainty,” published in the journal Science Advances, researchers analyzed mortality data from 162 countries between 2008 and 2017 from Global Burden of Disease Study and Internal Peace Index.
The researchers found that the most violent countries had the lowest life expectancy — an estimated gap of about 14 years in remaining life expectancy compared with peaceful environments — but the highest uncertainty about life expectancy. Violence was shown to be a key predictor of longevity uncertainty across borders, with this relationship being particularly strong in countries with ongoing conflict and/or high levels of violence.
In the Middle East, researchers found that conflict-related early death was the biggest contributor to life uncertainty. In Latin America, a similar pattern can be attributed to high rates of homicide and interpersonal violence. Gender is also a factor. Although the effect is greater in males, the effect is still substantial in adolescent girls and women of early reproductive age. It was also found that lifetime uncertainty was associated with high premature mortality in high-violence situations, and that this premature death was the driver behind the gap with peaceful countries.
The empirical link between current levels of violence and life uncertainty has not been fully established worldwide. Because exposure to violence leads to underlying states of vulnerability with significant social and psychological consequences, such as increased risk of depression, alcohol abuse, suicidal behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorder, it is critical to understand the long-term effects.
“Our study shows that the impact of violence on mortality goes beyond simply shortening lives,” said Orsola Torrisi, a postdoctoral associate in NYU’s Department of Social Sciences. “Living in a violent country carries a double burden: life is short and unpredictable. In turn, higher levels of uncertainty make individuals more likely to engage in violent behavior, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. Violence leads to The magnitude of lifetime uncertainty — even as other historical causes such as disease continue to decline — underscores that this is a major but largely unresolved public health crisis in many parts of the world.”