Life Expectancy

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U.S. life expectancy will soon be on par with Mexico’s and Croatia’s 2015
U.S. Life Expectancy Ranks 26th In The World - 2011
Life Expectancy Hits New High - 2005

U.S. life expectancy will soon be on par with Mexico’s and Croatia’s

Life expectancy at birth will continue to climb substantially for residents of industrialized nations — but not in the United States, where minimal gains will soon put life spans on par with those in Mexico and the Czech Republic, according to an extensive analysis released Tuesday.

South Korean women and Hungarian men are projected to make the largest overall gains (with South Koreans second among males). There is a better-than-even chance that South Korean women will live to an average of 90 years old by 2030, which would be the first time a population will break the 90-year barrier, according to the research published in The Lancet.

Not so in the United States. “Notable among poor-performing countries is the USA,” the researchers wrote, “whose life expectancy at birth is already lower than most other high-income countries, and is projected to fall further behind, such that its 2030 life expectancy at birth might be similar to the Czech Republic for men, and Croatia and Mexico for women.”

Countries are listed by median projected increase in life expectancy, largest to smallest, from 2010 to 2030. The red dots show the median increase at the end of that period. (Source: The Lancet)

Americans will gain only a couple of years of life expectancy between 2010 and 2030, the study predicted, keeping life spans in the early 80s for women and late 70s for men. The study projects a life expectancy of 83.3 for women in the U.S. and 79.5 for men in 2030, up from 81.2 for women and 76.5 for men in 2010.

The reasons for the United States' lag are well known. It has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any of the countries in the study, and the highest obesity rate. It is the only one without universal health insurance coverage and has the “largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs,” the researchers wrote.

Tellingly, the United States was the first high-income country to see a halt to the pattern of increasing height in adulthood, a reliable indicator of improving public health, according to Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, who led the research team.

Some Americans get a “bad start to life in nutrition and education” and suffer “high rates of homicide,” Ezzati said. “And then lack of universal insurance. Some people probably get diagnosed too little and too late.”

“If you have good insurance and you live on the East Coast and the West Coast, you probably get the best health care in the world,” he added. “It’s not the technical quality of it, which is superb. It's the spread of it.” In many parts of the country, top health care simply isn't available.

In December, the U.S. government reported that life expectancy had declined in 2015 for the first time since 1993 as death rates for eight of the 10 leading causes of death, including heart disease, rose.

In 2015, research by Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton brought worldwide attention to the unexpected jump in mortality rates among white middle-aged Americans. That trend was blamed on what are sometimes called diseases of despair: overdoses, alcoholism and suicide.

Demographer Sam Preston, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has conducted numerous studies on this subject, cited the prescription opioid epidemic, homicides, obesity and the lingering effects of smoking — the latter now declining among many groups in the United States — as primary causes for the poor showing.

“It's very worrisome,” said Preston, who was not involved in the new research. “The U.S. is at the bottom of the barrel among [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, and its relative position is worsening, not improving.”

The results released Tuesday echo some earlier analyses, including a report from the United Nations. Ezzati's group approached the task in a somewhat different way, running the numbers through 21 statistical models, combining the results and attaching probabilities to the conclusions.

Like other researchers, they found that women's advantage in life expectancy over men will continue to narrow, the result of more injuries, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease among women. In most places, gains in life span will come more from postponing death among older people, rather than eliminating killers of the young and middle-aged, such as infections. The analysis does not link specific causes of death to various countries' life expectancies.

Nations such as China, Russia and India were not included because they did not have adequate historical data, Ezzati said.

In contrast to the United States, South Korea “has a remarkable investment in early childhood nutrition,” has been taking advantage of medical advances and technology across its population and has some of the world's lowest obesity and hypertension rates, Ezzati said. The researchers said there is a 57 percent chance that the nation's women will live an average of more than 90 years by 2030 and a better than 95 percent chance that its men will survive beyond 80 (along with men in Australia and Switzerland).

“They seem to be getting a lot of things right at the same time, and getting them right for almost everyone,” he said.

U.S. Life Expectancy Ranks 26th In The World, OECD Report Shows

Life expectancy in the United States ranks 26th out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a new report from the organization.

U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it's 81 for U.S. women. (At five years, this gap in life expectancy between men and women is smaller than the OECD average of six years).

The U.S. life expectancy comes in just behind Slovenia, at 80.1 years, and Denmark, at 79.9 years. Comparatively, life expectancy is 81.1 years in the United Kingdom and 82.8 years in Switzerland (the country that came in first in the ranking). The Russian Federation came in last, with a life expectancy of 69.8 years.

In the 1960, the U.S. average life expectancy was 1.5 years above the OECD average.

While this doesn't mean that life expectancy is decreasing in the United States -- The Washington Post pointed out that life expectancy is eight years longer now than it was in 1970 -- growth in life expectancy is not as fast as in other countries.

"In the United States, life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years between 1960 and 2011, but this is less than the increase of over 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in OECD countries," according to the OECD.

The report also points out that the obesity rate in the United States is the highest among all OECD countries, at 36.5 percent in 2011 (it was 15 percent in 1978). In other countries, the average obesity rate was 22.8 percent in 2011.

Even though the United States doesn't have the highest life expectancy among the OECD nations, it does have the highest share of health spending. Health costs made up 17.7 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2011, compared with the OECD average of 9.3 percent. And the U.S. spent $8,508 per capita on health that year, compared with $3,339 on average for all OECD nations.

You can check out the full OECD report here. (213 pages)

Life Expectancy Hits New High - 2005

Life expectancy is greater than ever in the U.S., hovering a smidge below 78 years, the CDC today announced.

But America's lengthier life span still lags behind life expectancy in dozens of countries, according to World Health Organization statistics.

A baby born in the U.S. in 2005 has a life expectancy of 77.9 years. That's an extra tenth of a year, compared to life expectancy in 2004, according to the CDC's life expectancy statistics.

The CDC also reports that the top three causes of death -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- declined in 2005, compared with 2004, leading to greater life expectancy. However, heart disease, cancer, and stroke remain the country's top killers.

The life expectancy statistics are based on the CDC's preliminary data on more than 2.4 million deaths nationwide in 2005.

Life Expectancy Details

Life expectancy continues to be greater for women than for men and for whites compared with African-Americans -- but life expectancy edged up enough to reach a record high for African-Americans.

Here are the life expectancies for girls and boys born in 2005:

However, 26 countries have higher life expectancies for both men and women, according to the World Health Organization.

Japan has the world's greatest life expectancy for women (86 years) and the European republic of San Marino has the world's greatest life expectancy for men (80 years), according to the World Health Organization.

The top 15 causes of death for 2005

In 2005, heart disease killed 210.3 per 100,000 people, down from 217 per 100,000 in 2004.

Cancer deaths dropped from 185.8 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 183.8 per 100,000 in 2005. Stroke killed 50 per 100,000 people in 2004, compared with 46.6 per 100,000 in 2005.

Top Causes of Infant Death

The infant mortality rate for 2005 was 6.89 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. That's up from 6.79 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, but that difference may have been due to chance, notes the CDC.

Once again, there was a race gap in the infant mortality rate (which includes deaths within the first year after birth).

For whites, the infant mortality rate was 5.76 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (up from 5.66 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004). For African-Americans, the infant mortality rate was 13.69 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (down from 13.79 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004).

The top 10 causes of infant mortality for 2005 are as follows:

The life expectancy and death statistics are posted on the CDC's web site.
Source: By Miranda Hitti,

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