US Life Expectancy at All-time High

Today the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released a report announcing that U.S. life expectancy has hit an all-time high of over 78 years. The estimated life span of individuals born in 2009 is 78 years and 2 months. In addition, the annual mortality rate has declined; there were approximately 36,000 fewer deaths in 2009 than the previous year. Various factors play a role in this decrease including better medical treatment, public health campaigns against smoking, and fewer homicides. There has been a general increasing trajectory of life expectancy age since the 1940s. The CDC also released a statement correcting data released previously which had shown a one-month dip in life expectancy in 2008. Estimates are particularly optimistic for infants; the infant mortality rate has reached an all-time low showing a 3 percent drop from 2008.

Although this report is a positive one, there are a few areas that have not shown improvement. There is a distinct racial disparity in life expectancy trends, indicated by the stable nature of black life expectancy and infant mortality rates in contrast to improvements in both white life expectancy and mortality rates. In contrast to overall trends, there was no improvement in life expectancy for blacks or mortality rates for black infants. The racial gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites has increased by a two month margin, showing the life expectancy of blacks to be a little over 4 years lower than for whites. A gender gap also remains, with male life expectancy around 75.5, 5 years younger than the expectancy for females.

Data also shows that suicide has now surpassed blood infections as the 10th leading cause of death. This is the first time since 1999 that suicide has been in the top 10 causes of death. This is not due to a substantial increase in number of completed suicides, but rather a decrease in deaths related to blood infections.

To view full report:
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