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As a part of their research initiative entitled Zimbabwe's Crisis and Future, CGD Fellows Todd Moss, Michael Clemens and Stewart Patrick have articulated and analyzed the many political, economic and social catastrophes that have characterized that country's decline since 2000. These calamities include: the severe contraction of the economy; a doubling of the percentage of the population living in poverty; organized violence perpetrated by the government; the breakdown of basic services; the erosion of the country's economic foundation and the massive emigration of professionals.

To this list we can now add another tragedy: Zimbabweans have the horrific honor of having the world's shortest life expectancies. According to the WHO's recent World Health Report 2006, and as reported in the BBC News, Zimbabwean women have an average life expectancy of 34 years; men on average do not live past 37. Most shocking however, is the rapid decline these figures represent - average life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe has declined by two years in just the last 12 months. What a stark reminder of the human faces of economic and political crises!

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.