Drug Overdoses Contributing to the Decline in Life Expectancy of Americans
Should Congress do more to combat drug overdoses?
by Causes | 12.19.19
The life expectancy of Americans is on the decline according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ― a stark contrast contrast to those in other wealthy nations around the world ― and drug overdoses are one of the primary factors at fault.
What is life expectancy?
Life expectancy is a projection of what the average age of death will be for people born today that’s based on current data and estimates of how current trends will play out in the decades to come. That’s in contrast to two other related metrics: average age of death is calculated using the age of every person who died in a given year; while the death rate is calculated based on the proportion of people who died in a given year.
This chart from USAFacts shows that after years of gradually rising, life expectancy in the U.S. declined from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2017, while the average age of death dropped under 73 years in 2016 for the first time since 2010 before rebounding back to 73.1 years in 2017:
A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) connects this recent trend due to a rise in specific causes, including “drug overdoses, suicides, and organ system diseases” among younger adults across all racial groups.
CDC data shows that among Americans between the ages of 25 and 34, the death rate increased by 23% between 2014 & 2017 (from 108.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 132.8) , while among 35-44 year olds it increased by 11% (from 175.2 to 195.2) in that period. These charts from USAFacts show those trends since 1999 for 25-34 year olds, 35-44 year olds, and for all ages:
This USAFacts chart shows how, among Americans between the ages of 25 & 44, the overdose death rate increased from 25.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014 to 40.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017:
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Darwin Brandis)
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