America’s Lagging Life Expectancy in International Context: An Eroding Older-Age Mortality Advantage and Rising Younger-Adult Mortality From Preventable Causes

Jessica Ho , University of Southern California

Recent trends in American life expectancy have generated considerable cause for concern. This study compares mortality in the United States to 17 other high-income countries from 2006-2016 using data from the HMD, WHO, and individual countries’ vital statistics agencies. Improvements in American life expectancy have failed to keep pace with other countries. In 2016, U.S. life expectancy was lower than in the comparison countries by 3.40 (men) and 2.99 (women) years on average. Over the past decade, the U.S.’s deteriorating performance in international comparisons of life expectancy has been driven by two separate processes: an erosion of the U.S.’s old-age mortality advantage and a dramatic worsening of mortality at the prime adult ages (15-44). The key causes of death contributing to the U.S. life expectancy shortfall include: circulatory diseases, injuries (homicide, suicide, drug overdose, and motor vehicle accidents), firearm-related deaths, and among women, smoking.

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 Presented in Session 202. The Impact of Midlife Mortality on Population Health