Increasing Mortality of White Americans: A Systematic Deviation From Gompertz Law and a Trend Break in Cohort Health

Nicholas Reynolds , Brown University

I present evidence of systematic deviations of the mortality rate of white Americans from its usual log linear relationship with age. In each year since 1985, log mortality rates of white men and women exhibit a sharp trend break for men born after 1947 and for women born after 1950 — leading to higher mortality than would be predicted by the log linear Gompertz curve. This trend break can explain the timing of increases in the mortality rate of white men and women aged 45 to 54, and the staggered timing of mortality increases across other age groups. The patterns suggest there has been a cross-cohort decline in the health of white Americans born since the middle of the last century, relative to the preceding trend of improvement. To understand the cause of the recent increase in the white mortality rate, we must understand the sources of this cohort-specific decline.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2