Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Growing Gap in Death Rates between Urban and Rural

More bad news for rural America. The death rate in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas and the gap is growing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. The NCHS examined trends in age-adjusted death rates from 1999 to 2019...

Age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 people, 2019 (and 1999) 
Rural areas: 834.0 (923.8)
Urban areas: 693.4 (865.1)

While the death rate fell in both rural and urban areas between 1999 and 2019, the decline was much greater in urban areas. Between 1999 and 2010, both rural and urban areas saw their death rate fall. Since 2010, however, the death rate hasn't budged in rural areas while continuing to fall in urban areas. Consequently, the gap between rural and urban death rates has nearly tripled. The rural rate was just 7 percent greater than the urban rate in 1999. By 2019, it was 20 percent higher. 

What accounts for the widening gulf in death rates between rural and urban areas? The NCHS examined death rates by cause and found rates in rural areas exceeding rates in urban areas for all 10 leading causes of death. The biggest differences were for heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease.

"Those living in rural areas often face greater public health challenges as they have more limited access to health care, are less likely to be insured, and are more likely to live in poverty," the NCHS explains.

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