Friday, December 22, 2017

Life Expectancy Declines, Again

Big, big news: Life expectancy at birth fell for the second year in a row in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This is the first two-year life expectancy decline since flu outbreaks in 1962 and 1963 drove life expectancy down, according to NCHS. Life expectancy at birth in 2016 was 78.6 years, 0.1 year less than in 2015. Life expectancy at birth peaked at 78.9 years in 2014.

Drug overdose deaths are behind the life expectancy decline. There were 63,632 overdose deaths in 2016—21 percent (!) more than in 2015. The increase in drug overdose deaths has managed to rearrange the list of leading causes of death. "Unintentional injuries," which includes most drug overdose deaths, is now the 3rd leading cause of death. It was 4th in 2015.

Drug overdose deaths are highest among 25-to-54-year-olds and uncommon among people aged 65 or older. In fact, life expectancy at age 65 increased by 0.1 years in 2016 to 19.4 years as death rates from heart disease and cancer declined.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2016 and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2016

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