Life expectancy

Death Rate of Middle-Aged Americans Rises for Third Year

U.S. life expectancy peaked in 2014.


In 2010, U.S. life expectancy stopped rising. In 2014, it actually began to decline. This reversal can be largely attributed to an increase in the mortality rate of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. U.S. life expectancy rose from 69.9 years in 1959 to 78.9 years in 2014. Average U.S. life expectancy declined in each of the following three years and is now at 78.6 years.

The decline was greater for men (0.4 years) than for women (0.2 years). Life expectancy for non-Hispanic whites fell from 78.8 to 78.5 years; non-Hispanic blacks saw a decline from 75.3 to 74.8 years; and Hispanics experienced a decline from 82.1 to 81.8 years.

Rising mortality among Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 years accounts for the reversal in rising life expectancy. The study reports that, between 2010 and 2017, the all-cause mortality rate for middle-aged Americans rose from 328.5 to 348.2 deaths per 100,000 persons. Among Americans ages 25 to 34, the mortality rate increased from 102.9 to 132.8 deaths during that period.

While the focus of the article is on mid-life mortality rates, the researchers note that some "recent data suggest that all-cause mortality rates are increasing among those aged 15 to 19 years and 20 to 24 years (increasing from 44.8 deaths/100,000 to 51.5 deaths per 100,000 and from 83.4 deaths/100,000 to 95.6 deaths/100,000, respectively, during 2013-2017)."

Some good news is that mortality rates continued to fall at the tail ends of the age distribution. Between 1999 and 2017, the infant mortality rate dropped from 736 to 567 per 100,000 births while mortality among children ages 1 through 14 declined from 22.9 to 16.5 deaths per 100,000. Older Americans are living longer too: The mortality rate among adults between the ages of 65 and 84 fell from 3,774.6 to 2,875.4 deaths per 100,000.

The researchers report a striking geographic pattern in rising mortality rates, noting that the largest relative increases have occurred in the Ohio Valley and New England. For example, the mid-life mortality rate for both New Hampshire and West Virginia increased more than 23 percent. In New Hampshire, it rose from a low of 255.1 in 2010 to 314.7 per 100,000 in 2017. In West Virginia, it climbed from 424.4 in 1999 to 567.9 per 100,000 in 2017.

What is going on? The researchers point to rising deaths from drug overdoses, alcoholic liver disease, and suicides as the primary reasons for why mid-life mortality rates have been rising. Between 1999 and 2017, the mid-life drug overdose death rate rose from 6.7 to 32.5 deaths per 100,000; the chronic liver disease death rate from 6.4 to 8.9 per 100,000; and the suicide death rate from 13.4 to 18.6 per 100,000. In addition, the mortality rate from hypertension during that period rose from 6.1 to 11 deaths per 100,000 while the rate from obesity increased from 1.3 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000.

The JAMA researchers glumly report: "According to one estimate, if the slow rate of increase in US life expectancy persists, it will take the United States more than a century to reach the average life expectancy that other high-income countries had achieved by 2016."

Evidently more middle-aged Americans are drugging and drinking themselves to death, as well as deliberately taking their lives. Why? Among other things, the authors point out that "the largest relative increases in midlife mortality occurred among adults with less education and in rural areas or other settings with evidence of economic distress or diminished social capital." As one immediate cause, the researchers point the rise in the use of prescription opioids in the late 1990s. They fail to note the unintended consequences of the federal government mandate for an abuse-deterrent reformulation of prescription opioids that resulted in the massive rise in overdose deaths as users switched to street heroin and fentanyl.

What to do? A good start would be to end the drug war and adopt policies that enable folks to get out the local poverty traps in which they are stuck.

NEXT: Massachusetts Police Test Out Robot Dogs. Is Dystopia on Its Way?

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  1. carpe diem

    1. A 1980s Austin scoutmaster was arrested for teaching his troop such survival lore as how to squeeze psychoactive chemicals out of local amphibians. "Carpe Coaxit" T-shirts were soon ubiquitous all over the U. of Texas campus and Frog Scouts became a feature of the Muppet Show. This is the same Austin that will host the TANSTAAFL convention in May.

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  2. I'm rethinking my decision to move to West Virginia.

    1. I work in the state. Whereabouts?

      1. Almost Heaven?

      2. Nah It was a feeble attempt at humor. But seriously I live in Illinois and some of the nicest people I've ever met live in WV. Moving there would probably be a big step up for me.

  3. //Evidently more middle-aged Americans are drugging and drinking themselves to death, as well as deliberately taking their lives.//

    Both drugs and alcohol make it easier to laugh, an indispensable necessity in the face of universal absurdity. I would not be surprised to learn that the ones killing themselves are the most sober of the bunch.

    1. Nice insight. Sadly, it's probably accurate too.

    2. THIS!! Why is it that damn near every society for several thousand years have independently come up with the idea of fermenting some sort of substance to create alcohol? (Or at the least, discovered some naturally occurring psychoactive substance like peyote, or certain mushrooms):
      Scotch Whisky (barley)
      grapes (wine)
      peaches, pears, apples, etc. (schnapps and cider)
      juniper berries (gin)
      potatoes (vodka, actually damn near anything can make vodka)
      sugar cane (rum)
      honey (mead)
      rice (sake)
      camel's milk for fuck sake!

    3. Occasional drinking makes it easier to laugh. Alcoholism makes it easier to die.

  4. In the words of Hayek: "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

  5. geez! nice news. have a grateful day, asshole lol

    hopes are high soon enough we can be uploaded and surf forever anyway.

  6. That's fantastic news for your sociopathic billionaire handlers, Ronnie. Of course you're going to live long enough to live forever. You and Kurtzweil. Gotta hang in there long enough to watch the digital visage of an enormous black cock fucking your virtual waifu.

    1. That's...interesting.

  7. Life expectancy peaked in 2014? Hmm, the full provisions of Obamacare went into affect in 2014. Must be a coincidence.

    1. Ron is so fucking clueless he doesn't understand the difference between life expectancy, life span, and all-cause mortality.

      1. KK: Yes I do.

        1. I wonder if there is a Laffer Curve for life expectancy as a function of population density. If so, such a thing ought to be discernible where population is densest. Somewhere between Julian Simon and Malthus, life expectancy as related to pop density may change the sign of its slope. It sure as hell does for lab rats.

      2. KK: Yes I do.

        Which is WHY KK never explains the rock he/she lobbed.

    2. Riiiight. Look up life expectancy and suicide rates for East Germany and West Germany too, while you're at it.

      1. Ummm, do you mean their changes?
        Or are you confused again?

  8. It appears the best way to improve the life expectancy rate is to have more Hispanics. Not only do immigrants commit fewer crimes, they live longer! Utopia will soon be here when OBL's open borders are achieved!!

  9. End the drug war...then do what? The same Mexican cartels that move heroin and meth into the US today will still be doing so tomorrow. Unless you're advocating for domestic production of these dangerous drugs, you'll still have the cartels, the violence, the overdoses, all of it. Consumption drives the drug trade, allows for the cartels to do you address consumption and the resulting deaths?

    1. Legalization would make it easier for physicians to prescribe legal drugs without fearing losing their licenses. Being unable to obtain legal drugs to deal with pain is what's driving the "opioid epidemic". The overwhelming majority of people would rather by far obtain their medication cheaply and legally rather than trust cartel sources

    2. Note to foreign readers: the looter prohibitionist parties that export murderous laws and men with guns to your country also infiltrate the Reason comments section. They try to make it seem as though freedom is unsafe. Shooting and robbing peaceful people is what they consider safe.

    3. Avocados are legal, and the cartels seem to have no problem killing and warring over them

      1. When avocados are outlawed, only outlaws will have guacamole.

        1. dang, I should have gone with avocado toast.

          you know who else wanted to outlaw avocados?

  10. As I recall, there were news reports in the early 2000s of regional hospitals and first responders were being shuttered so that the time between you and emergency services had gone from 30 minutes to over 2 hours in some instances. That this is never addressed makes me wonder if those early news reports were wrong or there is some serious omissions in the reasons given for the increasing mortality rate.

    And while opioid overdose deaths have increased, historically the addition rate usually hovers around 5%. Something is not adding up in those numbers.

    1. See "certificates of need" for hospital services.

  11. "the largest relative increases in midlife mortality occurred among adults with less education and in rural areas or other settings with evidence of economic distress or diminished social capital."

    Well, the rev just got an erection.

  12. Sixties teenagers--the ones at Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and Spirit concerts--hardly drank alcohol. For one thing, we'd tried it from the liquor cabinet (ugh). For another, acid and weed (even DMT-soaked weed) were cheaper and easier to get--until Nixon was sworn in and at. A large fraction of us were temperance (not prohibition) advocates, complete with pre-vegan pity for our benighted "juice freak" brothers and sisters. Pseudoscientific demonization of our "free" market preferences left many merry pranksters at the mercy of the Demon Rum, so Bailey's stats come as no surprise.

    1. Well said.

      And I like “the looter Prohibitionist parties.” An apt description of them.

  13. I am not sure the scientists are being honest here. I got it from Greta that it is all because of climate change...I think that is what she said...but she spoke in Swedish, so I am not sure...maybe she said people are dying earlier from listening to news about climate change...something like that.

    1. Yeah I also suspect climate change is the culprit here. But we won't know for sure until Ron's driverless electric cars take over.

  14. Evidently more middle-aged Americans are drugging and drinking themselves to death, as well as deliberately taking their lives. Why?

    If I were to guess based on the other genre of stories it would be because there are no more middle class now cuz everyone's rich. So the three classes now are the rich normal, the drunkard addicts, and the dependent lumpenproles

  15. Wonder how many of these early deaths were never married or divorced, or otherwise separated from their families or friends. Loneliness kills, and if your living in a place where everyone is dieing or moving away, it’s in your face every day.

  16. Sit up straight, eat your veggies, put away your ice cream and fatty meat, never smoke, don't drink -- For the absolutely AMAZING work done in the last few years making "healthy" a faddish religion one might think such news would be a kick in the shorts to overzealous control freaks.

    1. Well these increased mortality rates very closely coincide with the increased availability of 32oz big gulp soft drinks. You'll notice that death rates have remained stable in NYC where the benevolent mayor Bloomberg nipped that shit in the bud. Once he is elected president we should see lifespans increasing dramatically nationwide.

      1. Interesting point though the health of people in these places probably wasn’t too great to begin with. I’m sure Bloomturd and the Rev will be quick to point that out. But 30-40 years ago, a lot more rural Americans smoked than today. It is something far more complex than big gulps or cigarettes that is killing these people.

        1. ^^No acknowledged "kick in the shorts" to be found. I see psychological projection is in overdrive.

          There we have it --- Even after everything but bran oats are banned and mortality rate is down to 30-years old it STILL won't be because of "biased implanted propaganda" but some sort of cherry-picking (only NYC joined the "healthy" faddish religion), non-significant, complex "OTHER" issue because bran oats is still #1 healthy and it doesn't really matter everyone's mortality rate is down 200% -- bran oats for the WIN!!!!

          Stay tuned; Next week we'll show you how "global warming" will actually be an "ice age".... LOL.....

    2. It's the plant based diet that drives people to drink.

  17. Increase in early death rates correlates to increased immigration from countries with poor healthcare despite their being wonderful socialist nations that provide excellent health care

    1. R: Cite?

    2. #DiversityIsOurStrength

  18. As I careen toward 45 years of age this week, I am ready for the sweet angel of death to take me.

    1. Lol. Wait for 15 more years, then you will truly know despair.

  19. Reason:
    Meh. Let the unproductive human widgets die a quick death. Better than them living to social security and medicare. We can import younger, healthier, more obedient ones who we can hope will complete the cycle of life and die in middle age in their turn.
    If not, we'll install Lifeclocks in the plebes and Carousel away our problems!


  20. "...and adopt policies that enable folks to get out the local poverty traps in which they are stuck."

    Hey Skeeter, the auto parts plant is never opening back up. Frickin' move!!!

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  22. Jog, water, vegetables... and cats.
    Secrets to life's happiness.

  23. Looks like Big Pharma drugs are really working. Want to live long? Stay away from your doctor, the hospitals and drugs of all kinds. And avoid the mainstreet news at all costs.

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