Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Column Archive |  On Twitter: J Huget and MisFits  |  Fitness & Nutrition News  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Life expectancy drops in U.S.

By Rob Stein
undefined

Image via Wikipedia/Life Expectancy 2007

UN HDR & CIA Factbook

Life expectancy in the United States dipped slightly in 2008, according to the latest federal data.

Those born in 2008 can only expect to live to be 77.8 years old, down from 77.9 years for those born in 2007, according to an annual preliminary analysis of data conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The drop--which is equivalent to about a month--occurred for both men and women, falling to 75.3 for males and 80.3 for females, according to the report.

The drop was so small that it was impossible to know whether it was just a one-year statistical blip or the beginning of a trend, according to Arialdi Minino, a statistician who worked on the report. He also said offiicals had no idea what may have caused it.

"I would take this with a grain of salt," he said during a telephone interview. "These are preliminary numbers. You can never tell whether this is a little blip or some trend that will stay there and linger there for some time. You can't tell until you have more data points."

Even though the drop occurred during the recession, experts are uncertain whether the bad economy would necessarily result in a drop in longevity. Although a bad economy does make it harder for some people to take care of themselves and get health care, deaths from major killers such as car accidents tend to fall.

Minino noted that the death rate, which is calculated using a different method, paradoxically went down.

"So this is an odd year. This is an unusual pattern," he said.

Life expectancy in the United States has been increasingly fairly steadily since 1975, when it was 72.6 years. But it did drop between 1992 and 1993, falling from 75.8 to 75.5, and between 2004 and 2005, when it slipped from 77.5 to 77.4.

In the latest data, the drop was 0.2 for the total white population. But life expectancy for blacks remained unchanged at 76.8 years. In fact, life expectancy for black males reached an all-time high of 70.2. For black females, it remained unchanged at 76.8. The gap between whites and blacks was 4.6 years, a 0.2 decrease.

The report also found that strokes fell from the third leading cause of death for the first time in 50 years. It was replaced by chronic lower respiratory diseases, which include illnesses such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Heart disease and cancer remain the two leading causes of death, accounting for nearly half of all deaths.

In a bit of good news, the infant mortality rate fell to an all-time low of 6.59 infant deaths per 1,000 life births, the report found.

By Rob Stein  | December 9, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Asthma, Cancer, Chronic Conditions, Infant health, life expectancy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Keeping caffeine from kids
Next: Is that right? Aspirin reduces cancer risk?

Comments

"The average life expectancy in the United States dipped slightly in 2008"

.....When did our Great Divider-in-Chief take office?

Posted by: allenridge | December 9, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

allenridge wrote ".....When did our Great Divider-in-Chief take office?


==============================

Um.....let me think....It was 2001, the year shrubbie-poo called himself a uniter not a divider, and went on to let cheneydick run things for him. Hope this helps...

Posted by: swatkins1 | December 9, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

yo yo power flow
this will be a beautiful death
I'm hearing that, bro

every junkie's like a setting sun

Posted by: pressF1 | December 9, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Given the obesity and diabetes rates, this may be a trend, rather than a blip.

Posted by: BootmanDC | December 9, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The answer to the Social Security problem. Doctors dropping out of medicare will help even more ! Obama fixed the problem .Help the young die rich and wealthy

Posted by: PIA9 | December 9, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Smoking is down. Infant mortality is down. Obesity is up. People without health insurance is up (for now). Poverty is up.

Must be too much regulation...

Posted by: OldUncleTom | December 9, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

But we have the best health care money can buy! How can this be? Could it be that my beliefs aren't aligned with the truth? Could it be that we pay more for less in health care? God Forbid!

Posted by: mg11231 | December 9, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

...and yet we are told that the Social Security full retirement age must be increased not only to reflect past increases in life expectancy, but in anticipation of future increases in that metric. In looking at graphs that contain both historical changes in life expectancy and projected changes, one can see that the slope of the part of the graph illustrating the projected increases is much greater than that of the historical portion, which, for women, has been practically flat over the past two decades. Only time will tell, but given this new data, I wonder whether the projected figures are not overly optimistic and whether proposed changes aren't going too far, taking draconian measures in response to (financially speaking) worst-case scenario numbers that will never materialize.

Posted by: CMNC | December 9, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

There is an error in this paragraph: "In the latest data, the drop was 0.2 for the total white population. But life expectancy for blacks remained unchanged at 76.8 years. In fact, life expectancy for black males reached an all-time high of 70.2. For black females, it remained unchanged at 76.8. The gap between whites and blacks was 4.6 years, a 0.2 decrease." The life expectancy for blacks overall is actually 73.6 years.

Posted by: wjcgettysburg | December 9, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

There is an error in this paragraph: "In the latest data, the drop was 0.2 for the total white population. But life expectancy for blacks remained unchanged at 76.8 years. In fact, life expectancy for black males reached an all-time high of 70.2. For black females, it remained unchanged at 76.8. The gap between whites and blacks was 4.6 years, a 0.2 decrease." The life expectancy for blacks overall is actually 73.6 years.

Posted by: wjcgettysburg | December 9, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I believe President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.

Posted by: chherndon | December 9, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Probably some of those old folk having to choose between paying an increased health insurance premium, buying food or quietly dying.

Amazing how the U.S. is number one in health insurance costs but number 38 in health care metrics.

Posted by: shadowmagician | December 9, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Judging by the comments here implying Obama caused this - we might be confronted with a dip in education level as well, by the eight years of Bush rule.

Posted by: Pillai | December 9, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Life expectancy and National Health Care

Japan - 82.17
Australia - 81.72
Hong Kong - 81.96
Singapore - 82.06
Canada - 81.29
France - 81.09

Need I go on? But wait, we're number one! (at saying we're number one!)

Posted by: 44fx2901 | December 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice if there was a basic definition in here as to what "life expectancy" means.

Is the median age of death? The mean? One or two standard deviation(s) above the norm?

Those would all be quite different in their significance, and the info isn't really useful without knowing, except as a purely relative term.

Posted by: AnnieDC | December 9, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The reason for this does not necessarily devolve into who is the President of the United States. When I go for a run in the morning (fairly early) virtually no one else is out doing same. The fitness center here in the workplace is used by about 5% (at most) of the people who work here (at least 50% range from overweight to massively obese). How many people eat the minimum recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day? Are we overworking and not getting restorative sleep?

As far as the availability of affordable effective health care, it seems like the solution to this is still a long way off.

Posted by: bigdogbite | December 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to know what age group(s) this is concentrated in: infant mortality, young people dying of AIDS or violence, cancer among the middle aged, or seniors not holding on quite as long.

Posted by: WmarkW | December 9, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Umm, the life expectancy in the U.S. and western nations is more like 60 or 61.

How, you say? Well, you have to factor in the infant mortality rate; those deaths count too. Western nations have infant mortality rates in the 20+% range.

How can that be? Well, you have to factor in abortions. All conceived infants in western nations have about a 1-in-5 chance of being aborted. Therefore, western nations have a much higher infant mortality rate than Third World countries do, and hence a much lower overall life expectancy.

So, the 80% x 79 years (or whatever) + the 20% aborted x 0 years (I guess) = about 60% or whatever it comes to for Life Expectancy

Posted by: RealTexan1 | December 9, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

When oil jumps to atronomic levels within a few years, according to DoD's in Germany and the U.S., a lot of oil-derived medicines will become very expensive. Also, as the just-in-time food supplies dry up because of the reliance on oil for the production, fertilising and transport of said sustenance, the average age will drop significantly - by about four or five decades worth from my reckoning. Sarah Palin will really become a hunter gatherer when this happens, though I think game will be harder to find (more likely she'll be hunting and eating some of her previous supporters. LOL

Posted by: icurhuman2 | December 9, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Our life expectancy should start dropping pretty quick. When the Food Safety Act goes into effect, the FDA will be able to close down small and organic farms in the U.S. that produce truly healthy and safe foods. They wll be able to force toxic GMO foods on the unsuspecting U.S. population with their resulting 25% death rate in newborns. Scientific studies of GMO foods fed to animals produce sick, puny, offspring if they survive birth and the second generation, if they live, are all born sterile. Chemically grown foods have been recently shown to have almost no nutritional value and with the new law outlawing vitamins and minerals people will get sick and die quick. Welcome to the world of Agribusiness.

Posted by: angel6 | December 9, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

It's Bush's fault!

Wait...aren't we done with that one now?

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

When you have an ever growing population of lazy government dependent slackers who do nothing but pack on pounds like cattle what do you expect?

Posted by: Pilot1 | December 9, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

This could only be "unexpected" if one was paying no attention to what's going on around us.

The proliferation of fat people and guns is not exactly going to make people live longer.

Posted by: guitar1 | December 9, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

AnnieDC, I think it's the average, or the mean.

Posted by: WickedRose | December 9, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, I thought under ObamaCare, the government decides how long we are allowed to live?

Posted by: Jsuf | December 9, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Life expectancy and National Health Care

Japan - 82.17
Australia - 81.72
Hong Kong - 81.96
Singapore - 82.06
Canada - 81.29
France - 81.09

Need I go on? But wait, we're number one! (at saying we're number one!)

Posted by: 44fx2901
----------------------------------------

We're also number one in medical errors, total health care expenditures, per capita health care expenditures, percentage of personal bankruptcies caused by health care expenses, number of citizens who leave the country to obtain health care, percentage of the population without health care benefits, and administrative costs of health care.

Posted by: Bob22003 | December 9, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, ya, fer shure, it's the SocialistNaziObamaMuslim death panels at work already.

Posted by: jobro1 | December 9, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Another big thank you to George W. Bush, not only did he get this country into the debacle in Iraq, take a month vacation before the 9/11 attacks, went fishing the day Katrina struck New Orleans, destroy the US economy and bleed 4 trillion dollars from Middle Class savings. Now that more Americans don't have the money for proper healthcare the US life expectancy has dropped. Bush the Mancherian Candidate.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | December 9, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It's not called morbid obesity for no reason.

Posted by: Nymous | December 9, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Well. Looks like this is the answer to the politicians prayers when it comes to funding social security. Let them die sooner and save the payout. Maybe this is why Republicans fight health care.

Posted by: jrussell1 | December 9, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Strange...I thought when all these people quit smoking!!!!!!

Posted by: corebanks1940 | December 9, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@logcabin1836: I hope you know that your comments make you sound dumb. I won't even get into blaming Bush for Katrina and 9/11 because those who do are simply incapable of reason. I will debate you on the fact that you think it's Bush's fault that people's life expectancy has dropped. That is such and inept statement that it isn't even funny. People treat their bodies like a garbage can and you blame Bush. How about personal responsibility? AMERICA, STOP EATING TRASH, GO FOR A RUN, HIT A GYM EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE. Please logcabin1836,stop blaming Bush for everything. If Americans took more responsibility for themselves instead of depending on the government for everything, we would be in a much better place.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 9, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I knew a guy, didn't smoke, do drugs, drink booze, eat fatty foods, or sleep around.

You know what he died of?

Nothing. Just nothing.

Posted by: jobro1 | December 9, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"It's Bush's fault!

Wait...aren't we done with that one now?"


We'll never be done paying for Bush's budget deficits, including the incredible messes he left Obama to clean up. How quickly Repubs forget (or pretend to).

Posted by: newageblues | December 9, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Is that all, 77yrs!? Well, looks like I can retire earlier than I thought...

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | December 9, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse


If you believe these UN statistics... I have some beautiful beach front property in Nevada's West Desert I would like to sell you

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | December 9, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

allenridge wrote ".....When did our Great Divider-in-Chief take office?


==============================

Um.....let me think....It was 2001, the year shrubbie-poo called himself a uniter not a divider, and went on to let cheneydick run things for him. Hope this helps...

Posted by: swatkins1 | December 9, 2010 1:58 PM

___________________________________________

Yes, and he served through 2008 to Jan. 19, 2009, so he was still in the WH during the year in question....lol

Posted by: dc1020008 | December 9, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Article says: ... infant mortality rate fell to an all-time low of 6.59 infant deaths per 1,000 life births...

This stat is a meaningless "so what" without more data, such as:
- were ALL births down in 2008 due to recession?
- were births down in the class of women (poor, uneducated) where we typically see a higher infant mortality rate?

I hate articles that only give part of the story and never seem to answer the question of WHY this happened.

Posted by: 809212876 | December 9, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

What we should be measuring is QUALITY rather than QUANTITY... our rate is probably low in that respect as well... and my quality of life is even lower thanks to right-wing conservative republicans. it's not fair, I'm only 30, I still have a whole lifetime to look forward to... while most of you don't.

Posted by: cbmariela | December 9, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Probably gangs members offing each other...

Posted by: illogicbuster | December 9, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

According to a recent study by Columbia University by Peter Muenning and Sherry Glied, The US female life expectancy fell from 5th in the world in 1950 to 49th in 2009. The study was based on a 15 year survival comparison with a number of western countries that all had some form of a universal health insurance system. Obesity and smoking were ruled out because it was higher than here. Since 1970 medical spending increase here at twice the rate, but worsened longevity.
The health care system is the cause. Here there are 59 million uninsured. Here there is little spent on public life saving programs. The evidence in the study is additional proof health care system is a failure.

Posted by: wpaul22518 | December 9, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

According to a recent study by Columbia University by Peter Muenning and Sherry Glied, The US female life expectancy fell from 5th in the world in 1950 to 49th in 2009. The study was based on a 15 year survival comparison with a number of western countries that all had some form of a universal health insurance system. Obesity and smoking were ruled out because it was higher in other countries than here. Since 1970 medical spending increase here at twice the rate, but worsened longevity.
The health care system is the cause. Here there are 59 million uninsured. Here there is little spent on public life saving programs. The evidence in the study is additional proof the US health care system is a failure.

Posted by: wpaul22518 | December 9, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"The average life expectancy in the United States dipped slightly in 2008"

.....When did our Great Divider-in-Chief take office?

Posted by: allenridge
--------------------------------------------
Brilliant Tea Party posting.

Education I don't need no stinking education....

Posted by: waxtraxs | December 9, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

We are fat - have a "war" that shows no sign of ending - health care system built on a Capitalistic system instead of Healthcare for people - public schools that average between 35-48 student - worst unemployment ever! It’s been a slow decline, rock bottom has hit.
We have a former president for 8 years that promoted nothing but war to fuel the economy. A newly elected president who is going to implode small business and the middle class- both of which keep the country rolling through tough times. Bring back industry it’s the only way USA will come back. Why is our administration not listening??? Because we are FAT!

Posted by: blonde19 | December 9, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Life expectancy drops in U.S."

Must be the new death panel is hard at work.

Posted by: wkcc36 | December 9, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Be proud Republicans, be proud.

Besides a staggering deficit and an economy on the brink of depression, 8 years of Republican "leadership" left us with:

1. Shorter life expectancies

2. A gap between the rich and poor that rivals the gaps that one typically associates with a banana republic

3. Steadily declining educational performance

4. The best health care system in the world if you happen to be one of the few people who can get into the club.

And faced with all of this, what is the top item on the Republican plan for the future: low tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, of course.

Posted by: exco | December 9, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

When you flood your country with third world peoples in a relative short period of time, why would you be surprised your quality of life indicators take an "unexpected" dip?

Posted by: slim21 | December 9, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

"The average life expectancy in the United States dipped slightly in 2008"

.....When did our Great Divider-in-Chief take office?

Posted by: allenridge | December 9, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

God in heaven....do you live for the purpose of posting your malice for the world to see every day?

Want to do something about life expectancy? Get a life, dirtbag.

Posted by: Bridge3263 | December 9, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

"But life expectancy for blacks remained unchanged at 76.8 years. In fact, life expectancy for black males reached an all-time high of 70.2. For black females, it remained unchanged at 76.8."

Either there are no black men or there is a problem with your stats.

Posted by: gurg | December 9, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Geez, the comments here are uninformed. First, a drop of 0.1 of a year in life expectancy based on preliminary data is a blip. It's not terribly meaningful. Second, life expectancy is the average number of years that a person would live if he or she experienced at every age the age-specific death rates observed in 2008. It's not the "average number of years that a baby born in 2008 would expect to live." Third, the relatively flat trajectory of life expectancy for females observed from 1980 to 2000 was largely due to smoking. Life expectancy should pick up soon for females given that most of the smoking-attributable mortality has already been factored in. The Social Security projections of life expectancy are almost usually viewed as excessively cautious by demographers, particularly for females. Fourth, the U.S.'s poor showing for life expectancy for females is largely due to smoking, not health care or smoking. You have to look at smoking prevalence thirty years to have some idea of what the mortality effects of smoking are.

Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats | December 9, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

When you flood your country with third world peoples in a relative short period of time, why would you be surprised your quality of life indicators take an "unexpected" dip?
***
Brilliant, except that immigrants in the U.S., including the foreign-born Hispanic population, have higher life expectancy than the native-born population.

Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats | December 9, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

"Brilliant, except that immigrants in the U.S., including the foreign-born Hispanic population, have higher life expectancy than the native-born population."

It was brilliant wasn't it? If native blacks remained the same and Caucasian peoples life expectancy is second only to that of some Asian groups--Japanese primarily, and we don't get too many of those. Somebody has to be dragging the averages down. Guess who?

Posted by: slim21 | December 10, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, virtually no change in white or black populations. It couldn't possibly be the uncontested invasion of our southern border, under the direction of armed and violent criminal gangs, and the attendant low life expectancy of this inherantly unstable population . . . or could it?!?!?

Posted by: UncomfortableTruths | December 10, 2010 4:04 AM | Report abuse

I thought smoking bans were supposed to make us all immortal.

Posted by: scoran | December 10, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

You have to wonder about a country with citizens who brag constantly about being No. 1, and then have lifespans that are significantly shorter than those recorded in many other countries. Actually, I believe we were No. 1 after World War II, but hubris about our health care system, lifestyle and social programs has taken a terrible toll since then.

Posted by: dparks2 | December 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Reduced life expectancy in the USA is a cummulative effect of 35+ years we have been adding High Fructose Corn Syrup to coke, pepsi and other soft drinks. Obesity causes more deaths than smoking.

We have the world's most expensive health care delivery system. We also have the world's most expensive medications and the world's most expensive health insurance. We have the world's most expensive hospitals and the world's most expensive surgical procedures.

Obamacare does nothing to make it cheaper. We also have the world's greediest lawyers helping to raise health care care costs for everyone.

Posted by: alance | December 10, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The greatest health care system in the world?

ROTFALMAO

The most expensive?

YOU BETCHA'

Posted by: st50taw | December 10, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Obesity causes more deaths than smoking,"
***
Where are you getting this bizarre notion? Smoking is responsible for 450,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Obesity is responsible for about 100,000.

Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats | December 10, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"It was brilliant wasn't it? If native blacks remained the same and Caucasian peoples life expectancy is second only to that of some Asian groups--Japanese primarily, and we don't get too many of those. Somebody has to be dragging the averages down. Guess who?"
***
Brilliant. Life expectancy in 2005

U.S. Non-Hispanic whites: 78.3
Australia: 81.4
Canada: 80.4
France: 80.5
Sweden: 80.8

And so on, and so on. You do realize that U.S. Hispanics have higher life expectancy than U.S. non-Hispanics, right? It's a basic concept called the "Hispanic paradox."

Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats | December 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company