1d6f694a30012e2a200ad3b740da4dd6Long standing trends in life expectancy and death rates in America are changing in unexpected ways.

The decade long steady decrease in the death rate for middle-age white Americans has turned around in the last few years.

On the whole the US mortality rate has declined about 2 percent per year, meaning that people live longer.

The sudden change in directions comes as a an abrupt surprise to researchers.

Evidence for this change comes from a 2016 article by Princeton Economist and Nobel Prize Laureate Angus Deaton“Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.”

Deaton says that the changes in mortality rates came as such a surprise to the researchers that “pretty quickly we started falling off our chairs because of what we found.”

What he found is “a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013.”

The observed increase in mortality is significant because; “this changeMortality_by_age reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround.”

Confirmation of Deaton’s findings come from a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CCD), “Changes in Life Expectancy by Race and Hispanic Origin in the United States, 2013–2014,” led by demographer Elizabeth Arias.

Aris’s findings are that white American women are dying at younger ages.

That is, the life expectancy of white American women declined from from 81.2 years to 81.1 years

That is a small change, but it does mean that the steady increase in life expectancy for white American women has stopped and even slightly reversed.

No one knows why these changes are occurring and there is no basis to suppose that life expectancies will continue to decline.

The CDC defines Life Expectancy as; “the average number of years that a hypothetical group of infants would live at each attained age if the group was subject, throughout its lifetime, to the age-specific death rates prevailing for the actual population in a given year.”

It is important to understand how the science of life expectancy and death rate measurements works so that we may draw warranted inferences and recognize the limits of such knowledge.

In that spirit I will continue to study the current research and report it to you.

Jon facilitates  Death Cafe Corvallis which is open to all and meets weekly in Corvallis Oregon.

Image Acknowledgements

Dance Macabre, c. 1744 Antonio Steinhauer.jpg

Mortality by age.png