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US “Life Expectancy” Drops; CDC Cites Suicides, Drug Overdoses, As Causal Factors

November 30, 2018

Life expectancy, defined as the average number of years a person born in any given year is expected to live, has fallen in the United States, according to the newest reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) in Atlanta, GA. (The World Health Organization defines life expectancy as the “average number of years that a newborn is expected to live if current mortality rates continue to apply.”)

The average lifespan has fallen slightly for the second year in a row for both American males and females. That average lifespan in America is now 78.6 years, based on data available through 2017. Male lifespans dropped marginally from 76.2 (2016) to 76.1 years; while females, who generally live longer, show no significant change at 81.1 years.

The CDC report notes that the mortality  rate adjusted for age in the US has increased slightly “by 0.4% from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2016 to 731.9 in 2017.”

While the CDC reports that the top 10 causes of death remain the same, the causes have shifted in rank, with suicide and fatal drug overdoses showing marked increases.

In analysis published last year by senior researcher Esteban Ortiz-Opsina, PhD., at Our World In Data, an online publication of Oxford University, life expectancy data do not speak to “person-specific factors.”

Ortiz-Opsina says it is important to consider that “period and cohort life expectancy estimates are statistical measures, and they do not take into account any person-specific factors such as lifestyle choices. Clearly, the length of life for an average person is not very informative about the predicted length of life for a person living a particularly unhealthy lifestyle.”