Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We're Dying Earlier in the U.S. While People in Other Countries are Living Longer

Our life expectancy in the U.S. decreased for the second year in a row in 2016 to 78.6 years. The drop looks small at first blush -0.1 years, but it's alarming. Life expectancy in the United States is lower than in most other OECD countries and the gap is getting wider--we're dying earlier in the U.S. while people in other countries are living longer. I could not do as good a job of explaining why as Bill Gardner did in this post, so I recommend you read his explanation. 

How are people dying? These are the leading causes of death according to the CDC.
  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Accidents
  4. Chronic lower respiratory disease
  5. Stroke
  6. Alzheimer's
  7. Diabetes
  8. Flu and pneumonia
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Suicide
The rate of death decreased for seven of these 10, but increased for accidents, Alzheimer's and suicide. We also know drug overdose deaths rose an appalling 21% from 2015 to 2016


It bears mentioning that it's not too late to get a flu shot. The deaths from flu are largely preventable if we could get enough people vaccinated. If you're not inclined to get a flu shot for your own benefit, do it for the people around you


Please excuse the public service announcement. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Where the death rate declined for infants and older American's, it increased for people age 15 to 64 and increased for men more than women.  (Life expectancy for women was the same this year as it was last, 81.1 years. However, for men it declined from 76.3 to 76.1.)

The rich have always lived longer than the poor, but here the gap is widening too. The top 1% of male wage earners now live 15 years longer than men in the bottom 1%. (For women, the gap is 10 years.) This shocking chart ran in an article on Vox I recommend reading. 



They're evidently doing something right in California, but the rest of this news is bleak. Surely, we can do better.