This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

U.S. Life Expectancy Drops Yet Again

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (part of CDC) has just released a report showing that for the second year in a row the life expectancy at birth has gone down in this country. Wrong direction! The likely culprit is the opioid epidemic, which also took the blame last year when the mortality statistics took a turn for the worse, as I noted a year ago. CNN took a close look at the numbers.
Life expectancy in the United States has dropped again following last year's decline, which marked the first downturn in more than two decades.
On average, Americans can now expect to live 78.6 years, a statistically significant drop of 0.1 year, according to a report on 2016 data published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Women can now expect to live a full five years longer than men: 81.1 years vs. 76.1 years.
The last time the agency recorded a multiyear drop was in 1962 and 1963.
The graph below illustrates the changes, which are small but important. Keep in mind for comparative purposes that the PRB's World Population Data Sheet shows that in Switzerland life expectancy at birth for women is 85 (4 years higher than the U.S.) and 81 for men (5 years higher than the U.S.), whereas in Mexico life expectancy for women is 79 (only two years lower than in the U.S.) and for men it is 75 (only a year less than in the U.S.). In other words, life expectancy in the U.S. is closer to Mexico than it is to Switzerland. I'm guessing that geography is not the explanation...

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