Posted on January 30, 2020

U.S. Life Expectancy Up for First Time in Four Years, Rises to 78.7 Years

UPI, January 30, 2020

Americans’ life expectancy increased in 2018 for the first time in four years, as analyses revealed declines in several of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to figures released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC’s “Mortality in the United States: 2018” report says deaths caused by drug overdoses declined for the first time in 28 years, and death rates for six of the 10 leading causes also fell, including cancer.The nation’s age-adjusted death rate for the entire U.S. population decreased by 1.1 percent in 2018, increasing life expectancy to 78.7 years, a slight jump of 0.1 years over 2017.”The increase in life expectancy from 2017 to 2018, after declines from 2014 to 2017, is largely due to the shift from increasing mortality to a decrease from unintentional injuries, especially drug overdose,” Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told UPI.

“Life expectancy at birth is often used as an overall measure of population health,” he added, which made the three-year decline from a recent high of 78.9 years in 2014 all the more alarming.

According to final 2018 data, there were 723.6 deaths per 100,000 population in the United States that year, down from 731.9 in 2017.


From 2017 to 2018, overdose deaths dropped 4 percent from more than 70,000 to 67,367. Nearly 90 percent of all overdose deaths in the United States in 2018 were deemed accidental/unintentional.

The drop in overdose deaths occurred despite increases in the number of deaths linked with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol. Deaths related to use of those three drugs increased by 10 percent.

“The recent consecutive decline in life expectancy has been the anomaly and much of that decline seems to have been driven by midlife mortality, in particular drug-related mortality,” said Dana A. Glei, a senior research investigator in population health at Georgetown University.

Glei said an analysis she and Preston published this month in PLOS One suggests that “in the absence of drug-related mortality, life expectancy would have continued to increase since 2012.”