American life expectancy ticked down by .1 years in the last quarter. It may not sound like much but how many of us would voluntarily give up 1 month and 14 days of our lives? Probably not many.
What we should know before panicking:
- Life expectancy decreases were concentrated in white men, white women. and black men.
- White women are more likely to die from respiratory disease, black men from homicide.
- Obesity is likely a root cause.
- Death from unintentional injury spiked. This includes overdose and other accidental causes of death. Increasing heroin and opioid addiction is a major factor.
- Other causes of death showing increases include suicide, heart and lung diseases, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
- Americans are dying younger. This is counter intuitive, as the population ages you would expect more deaths at an older age.
- We have had blips like this in the past and recovered.
What does this all mean?
Our unhealthy habits of eating too much, drug abuse and violence killed us faster and at a younger age than in the past. If the life expectancy continues to shrink in this manner, it could have a profound impact on the US economy. This would result from an increasing number of American’s of working age dying instead of being part of a productive work force.
Bottom line: It is too soon to tell if this is the beginning of a downward trend in American life expectancy. The good news is that every cause of death that saw an increase is directly related to how Americans choose to live. The question is can we find the will to do something about it?