The Latest US Life Expectancy and Mortality Figures

The mortality data for 2014 was recently published by the CDC. The popular press has been making a big deal of the fact that the statistical measure of life expectancy at birth has remained much the same these past few years. This is something that epidemiologist S. Jay Olshansky has suggested might happen as a result of the consequences of greater obesity temporarily outweighing progress in medicine, but a few years is too short a period of time to confirm any departure from the long slow upward trend in life expectancy established over past decades. Meanwhile we should bear in mind that present trends are the outcome of a period of development in which researchers were making no efforts to treat the causes of aging; gains in life expectancy were incidental. That is now changing, and future trends will reflect a research community increasingly involved in building therapies that target the mechanisms of aging. The past will not reflect the future, and this is a time of transition.

This report presents 2014 U.S. final mortality data on deaths and death rates by demographic and medical characteristics. These data provide information on mortality patterns among U.S. residents by such variables as sex, race and ethnicity, and cause of death. Information on mortality patterns is key to understanding changes in the health and well-being of the U.S. population. Life expectancy estimates, age-adjusted death rates by race and ethnicity and sex, the 10 leading causes of death, and the 10 leading causes of infant death were analyzed by comparing 2014 final data with 2013 final data.

Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group was to experience, throughout life, the age-specific death rates present in the year of birth. In 2014, life expectancy at birth was 78.8 years for the total U.S. population - 81.2 years for females and 76.4 years for males, the same as in 2013. Life expectancy for females was consistently higher than life expectancy for males. In 2014, the difference in life expectancy between females and males was 4.8 years, the same as in 2013. Life expectancy at age 65 for the total population was 19.3 years, the same as in 2013. Life expectancy at age 65 was 20.5 years for females, unchanged from 2013, and 18.0 years for males, a 0.1-year increase from 2013. The difference in life expectancy at age 65 between females and males decreased 0.1 year, to 2.5 years in 2014 from 2.6 years in 2013.

In 2014, the 10 leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide - remained the same as in 2013. The 10 leading causes accounted for 73.8% of all deaths in the United States in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, age-adjusted death rates significantly decreased for 5 of the 10 leading causes of death and significantly increased for 4 leading causes. The rate decreased by 1.6% for heart disease, 1.2% for cancer, 3.8% for chronic lower respiratory diseases, 1.4% for diabetes, and 5.0% for influenza and pneumonia. The rate increased by 2.8% for unintentional injuries, 0.8% for stroke, 8.1% for Alzheimer's disease, and 3.2% for suicide. The rate for kidney disease in 2014 remained the same as in 2013.



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