The average life expectancy in the 1800s was just 30. That rose to 72 years (to be precise) in 2017.
But there was a dip in the 1960s because China witnessed the largest ever man-made famine (reference: Factfulness, Hans Rosling.) It resulted from a bad season for harvest, poor government policies, mismanaged food supply, and secrecy.
The crop yield was lower than average. But to hide the results, local governments sent all the food to the central government. There was no food left. A year later, inspectors gave eyewitness accounts of cannibalism and dead people along the roads.
The Chinese government denied that its central planning had failed and kept the catastrophe secret for 36 years. It wasn’t described in English to the outside world until 1996. If you think, it’s almost impossible for any government to hide the death of 15 million people today simply because the world is more transparent.
But history tends to repeat itself. And it did in 2020. So you know, if it’s hard for citizens to elicit information from any government, the country is surely on the road to an ominous autocratic dysfunction.