US Life Expectancy Increases; Death Rate Drops

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Life expectancy in the United States has reached almost 78 years, a record high. According to federal health officials, not only has life expectancy increased, but the death rate has dropped to an all-time low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

The new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that life expectancy in the United States was 77.9 years in 2007 an increase from 77.7 years in 2006. Since 1997, life expectancy for the average American has increased 1.4 years.

Life expectancy is at an all-time high for both men and women . It is 75.3 years for men and 80.4 years for women. The gap between male and female life expectancy has narrowed since a peak of 7.8 years in 1979 to 5.1 years in 2007 .

For African Americans, life expectancy for has reached 70 years for men. This is the first time the number has been achieved.

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The death rate fell for the eighth straight year to a new low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people. That's 2.1 percent lower than the 2006 rate of 776.5. The death rate is half that of 60 years ago when it was 1,532 per 100,000 (1947 statistic).

In 2007, the number of people who died in the United States was 2,423,995 slightly fewer than 2006. Heart disease and cancer accounted for almost half (48.5 percent) of all deaths in 2007 according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, an industry trade group. The organization notes that deaths for eight of the 15 leading causes decreased.

There were fewer deaths from influenza/pneumonia, homicide, accidents, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. However, deaths from the fourth leading cause of mortality, chronic lower respiratory diseases, increased 1.7 percent. Death rates also increased for Parkinson's disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and Alzheimer's.

SOURCES: Robert N. Anderson, Ph.D., chief, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Aug. 19, 2009, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2007, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

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