Genealogists are aware that the life expectancy has been increasing for years in most developed countries. Therefore, it is a bit of a shock to learn that the life expectancy of citizens in the United States has actually decreased recently. To be sure, it is a small decrease. However, ANY decrease is a cause for concern.
The news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65. On average, the overall life expectancy, for someone born in 2015, fell from 78.9 years to 78.8 years. The life expectancy for the average American man fell two-tenths of a year — from 76.5 to 76.3. For women, it dropped one-tenth — from 81.3 to 81.2 years.
Government analysts are awaiting more data before reaching any definitive conclusions. However, those analysts and most medical professionals are not surprised at the latest numbers. In fact, such numbers have been predicted for some time. The assumption is that the American lifestyle, especially the food we eat, is responsible. Again, that is an assumption. We will not know for sure until more study is performed over the next few years.
In addition, the epidemic of prescription opioid painkillers and heroin abuse is probably fueling the increase in unintentional injuries. The rise in drug abuse and suicide could be due to economic factors causing despair.
I would suggest we all keep an eye out for future announcements about life expectancy. In the meantime, take care of yourself, OK?