Tuesday, March 03, 2020

We're Already Behind in Life Expectancy

The good news is that American life expectancy is projected to rise, according to the Census Bureau. The bad news is that our life expectancy has already fallen short of what it should be to achieve the projected gains.

In a report on future trends in life expectancy, the Census Bureau foresees life expectancy rising from the 79.7 years it had projected for 2017 to 85.6 years in 2060, an increase of about 6 years. The trouble is, actual life expectancy in 2017 was only 78.6 years, fully 1.1 year less than the 79.7 projected, which was the starting point for the trends forecast in the report. The lower actual life expectancy of 2017 is a consequence of three years of life expectancy declines during the 2010s. So, we're already behind on making those life expectancy gains.

This disconnect is mentioned in the report. A footnote reads: Official life expectancy measures from the NCHS were lower than the projected life expectancy values for 2017. Despite recently observed decreases in life expectancy, these projections assume continued increases in life expectancy." The researchers also explain that they expect the pattern of broad increases in life expectancy to resume.

Let's hope so, because the potential increases are impressive. Here are the life expectancy projections for 2060, the increase from the projected life expectancy of 2017 (and actual life expectancy in 2017)...

Total population
85.6 years in 2060, 5.9 years more than the 79.7 projected for 2017 (78.6 actual)

83.9 years in 2060, 6.6 years more than the 77.3 projected for 2017 (76.1 actual)

87.3 years in 2060, 5.3 years more than the 82.0 projected for 2017 (81.1 actual)

Non-Hispanic Whites
85.6 years in 2060, 5.6 years more than the 80.0 projected for 2017 (78.5 actual)

Non-Hispanic Blacks 
84.6 in 2060, 8.4 years more than the 76.2 projected for 2017 (74.9 actual)

86.5 years in 2060, 4.3 years more than the 82.2 projected for 2017 (81.8 actual)

Source: Census Bureau, Living Longer: Historical and Projected Life Expectancy in the United States, 1960 to 2060

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