With the alarming news that US life expectancy rates went down last year, here are the causes.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Americans could expect to live into their early 40s … and that was about it. Modernization has led to a dramatic increase in how long we live, and life expectancy rates have enjoyed a steady, if not slow, climb. But now for the first time since 1993, life expectancy in the United States has taken a dip, which Lenny Bernsteinfrom The Washington Post calls “a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States.” Bernstein reports:
Overall, life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, according to the latest data. The last time U.S. life expectancy at birth declined was in 1993, when it dropped from 75.6 to 75.4, according to World Bank data.
The overall death rate rose 1.2 percent in 2015, its first uptick since 1999. More than 2.7 million people died, about 45 percent of them from heart disease or cancer.
The new data comes from the National Center for Health Statistics, which concludes that death rates rose across the board. (Though one bit of good news, cancer rates dropped.)
“I think we should be very concerned,” says Princeton economist Anne Case. “This is singular. This doesn’t happen.”