Original article from JAMA
U.S. life expectancy increased from 69.9 years in 1959 to 79.1 years in 2014 — after which it began a slow decline, hitting 78.9 in 2016 — according to an analysis in JAMA.
U.S. researchers examined national mortality data to assess trajectories in life expectancy from 1959 through 2016 and in cause-specific mortality from 1999 through 2017. Among the other findings:
- Life expectancy gains were greatest between 1969 and 1979, slowed in the 1980s, and stalled in 2011.
- Recent decreases in life expectancy were largely attributable to increases in mortality in midlife (ages 25 to 64). Major causes included increases in fatal drug overdoses, alcoholic liver disease, suicide, and hypertensive disease.
- New England and the Ohio Valley experienced the greatest relative increases in midlife mortality.
Editorialists write, “The study … detailing years of cumulative insults to the nation’s health, represents a call to action.” In particular, they say future studies “must explore how income inequality, unstable employment, divergent state policies and other social dimensions affect disease.”
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