American Life Expectancy Rises for First Time in Four Years

Life expectancy, the most basic measure of the health of a society, rose slightly in 2018, after a rare and troubling decline driven by the opioid epidemic.

Comments: 80

  1. Excellent. Trump policies again working their magic.

  2. @Murray Boxerdog Wait, these results are for 2018. I can't wait to read the life expectancy results after all the environmental restrictions have been lifted (trump administration) and people are exposed to all sorts of deadly chemicals. Deaths, sicknesses and cancers won't occur instantly, it will take a few years. Trump will be out of office but all his low (no) information base will be quick to blame the current president, no doubt a democrat.

  3. @Murray Boxerdog yes and I was just beginning to believe "government" doesn't work! (only when the Cadet makes it so, right?)

  4. @Anne Oide Still, it solves the retirement problem with the Trump Administration having to give the green light on smoking cigarettes.

  5. It must be Donald's hugely popular Trump Care that's driving the best life expectancy ever...snark..

  6. @Adam Surely are the policies which give jobs to a lot of people, including minorities.

  7. People quickly got alarmed re the opiod crisis fueled by our de facto criminal big pharmacy criminals and did something about it. After many yrs. we did something about cig. smoking and drunk driving. We are still in the Middle Ages re gun deaths/injuries in this country, an aberration re our peer countries. An added note, the aftereffects of ACA did not hurt the good news. Up to 20 million more Americans got affordable, quality health care.

  8. @Paul Affordable?

  9. @Nick thank you for you reply. runs about six to eight thousands dollars people who have it told me. If you want to go to the open market and get a de facto criminal republican plan it runs around $20k for full coverage or $5k is you want to get a plan that covers nothing.

  10. one of the things I do as an RN working in an ER is to review charts of people suspected of using opiates. It is striking how many patients are being brought out of comatose states in the community by First Responders or bystanders with the medication Narcan. It's fairly safe to say deaths are being avoided and the public health data (not at my fingertips just now) would support this contention.

  11. @Tim what is the long term affects of Narcan? Do we know? Will we have another "health issues' the result of issuing Narcan?

  12. It would be really nice if there were some graphs to accompany this. I am really curious to see more about the trend of life expectancy and drug overdoses over time, and compared to other countries (especially Portugal since they've decriminalized so many drugs). The drug epidemic is a major problem facing our country and I'm glad that many candidates (including my favorite, Andrew Yang) are aware of it.

  13. @Jason I would also like to see the projections for the next few years and see how life expectancy will continue to change. I would also like to see charts comparing other social problems, other than drug abuse, to the life expectancy to see if there are more ways that America can improve life expectancy.

  14. We still lag behind many other countries in terms of life expectancy. Most of these countries have some form of universal health coverage and access. It would be interesting to see if the new statistics could be broken down into those states that took the Medicaid expansion under the ACA and those that did not. I would wager big money on that one.

  15. Not to worry. My parents, both of them Depression-era babies, are still alive, but they have already outlived one child and their other two -- one borderline boomer/Gen X and the other a Gen X -- are both facing more health problems than either of them have ever seen, along with fewer resources, a much weaker social safety net, and threats from the Trump administration of losing the Social Security and Medicare we've both paid into our entire lives. Neither of us are expecting the level of care and comfort that our parents have enjoyed. My plan is suicide when it gets really bad. My brother will probably be luckier and drop dead of heart failure first. What good is life expectancy when there is no quality of life for older folks, and it's all about struggling to survive from month to month?

  16. @Allison Points well taken, Allison. I, too , am a Depression era baby. We grew up at a time when our food was free of chemicals. We walked . We spent time outdoors. We had communities that supported us. To be poor was not stigmatized. There were many who were poor. You raise some very critical issues. Don't despair, we have been here before. Fight for the right to be an American...The struggle is real..

  17. @Allison It makes us almost feel like they’re going to just send in Big Brother to “take care” of us seniors in a Big Brother way. Might be easier than taking our life supports, Medicare and Social Security away, and Medicaid for those that need it, too. Did we ever imagine our imaginations were actually coming true? Guess we just thought of Donald Trump on that silly “Apprentice” show....Now we’re the contestants.

  18. The USA is an outlier amongst first world nations for three kinda of deaths: firearms-related, lack of access to preventative healthcare (and due to unaffordability of care), and induced by opioid drugs marketed and administered solely for profit. The third of these is being dealt with at long last, the second has been mitigated somewhat, the first shows no signs of abating. Nor will it until the 2nd Amendment is repealed.

  19. I have to give the medical community credit for really mobilizing around the opioid epidemic. Local police departments did their part too by changing the ways that they deal with addicts. I'm sure Trump will try to take credit, but that would be false.

  20. @Cousy Trump has accomplished more in 3 years than any other presidant in history! MAGA!!

  21. I can hardly wait for DJT to take credit...

  22. People are hanging on longer hoping to see Trump led off in handcuffs. So in a way he's really performing a public service.

  23. Very hard to believe this after also reading in the NYTs that infant mortality rates have risen here in the US. Of course with restrictions being lifted on all sorts of pollution by the trump administration we will see an increase in deaths a few years down the road. Trump will be long gone and the low information voters will be blaming this on the current president, a democrat no doubt.

  24. The Post article today includes a graph showing the decline of US life expectancy relative to the OECD average was 3.3 years from 1980 to today. The result is over 1 billion years of lost lives for Americans, many times the years of life lost in the Holocaust. That is the major news, not the stabilization of US life expectancy over the last four years. We need universal coverage like all other rich nations and we need to do all other major reforms to address this crisis.

  25. When you have a lot of 18-25 year-olds dying from drug overdoses, that mathematically hits the life expectancy stats hard. If those numbers go down, it will be a wonderful thing. Of course losing fewer people to cancer is good, too.

  26. @Madeline Conant Quality of life is important, also. Has the quality of life improved for many Americans?

  27. It is almost as if increased scrutiny on the pharmaceutical industry combined with targeted investments in public health has an effect! Perhaps we could these concepts in other areas like healthcare or finance? Hopefully no one is frightened by my radical leftist agenda

  28. This is statistically insignificant. We still rank somewhere between 35th and 43rd in a ranking of over 200 countries. The CIA Fact Book says we are 43rd. The countries with a higher life expectancy tend to have a single payer system of health care. Our health care system is an mess. We need to move forward and catch up with the rest of the world.

  29. The Affordable Care Act has added health insurance coverage to more than 20 million more Americans, leading to the hockey stick tip we've reached. But under Trump today, millions have lost health coverage - including children and teenagers, when high school has been shown to be an all-too fertile time for drug abuse to sow its seeds, and including loss of Medicaid coverage- the source credited for the glowing drug rehab recovery story in this article: “The Census data are clear — the uninsured rate for kids is up sharply and it’s due to a loss of public coverage — mostly Medicaid,” Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said in a statement. “These children are not getting private coverage as the Trump Administration has suggested but rather becoming uninsured,” she said. “This serious erosion of children’s health coverage is due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions that have made health care harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their children.” Especially today, when coronavirus tops the headlines, coverage matters. Healthcare for all who need it!

  30. Trump has given jobs to a lot of people, african american, asian american, women, and with jobs he has given them their dignity back and the opportunity to take control of their own life. Good job, Mr. President !

  31. @Mary Jobs for African Americans..women...dignity.. at many jobs that pay minimum wage?

  32. @Mary - What jobs are those, pray tell? The last I heard, coal hadn’t yet come back despite Trump’s assurance that it would, factories are still relocating overseas, and it still remains a gig economy for many people. As for the man giving anyone his or her dignity back, that’s a laugh. Trump can’t give anyone dignity because he possesses none himself.

  33. A lot of words that ultimately add up to nothing. Why? Because our irresponsible media simply will not tell the whole story. Until we decriminalize both our health care system and "drugs" our life expectancy will continue to decline not all deaths are caused by opiates.

  34. @joe Hall How does "continue to decline" match the reality of life expectancy not declining this year after just a 3 year anomaly from most of the other years it increased?

  35. To claim the ups and downs in national death rates and life expectancies are due to illicit drug use is false and deeply misleading. The US has the worst life expectancies of any developed country (even worse than some poor ones like Cuba and Costa Rica), mostly due to inequality, uneven education, bad neighbourhoods, lack of exercise, obesity and poor diets, poverty (over 15% of the population poor compared with single digit numbers in northern Europe), violence, and access to quality healthcare. This has been true for 2 decades and almost all the data show the US has been getting comparatively worse and worse, compared with not only developed countries, but also developing ones such as China which have shown, in contrast, improvements in population health. Bad social, economic and tax policies lie at the root, alongside social exclusion and regional disparities.

  36. @Cephalus Or is it mostly from suicide due to depression that is created by a dependent, childlike perspective that others should pay my way, any bad event is a tragedy, that all attitudes are racists/sexists/x-phobic. When you teach intersectionality and suggest western values are evil, depression and anxiety will rise, and we see that clearly.

  37. @Cephalus Thank you for this excellent comment that cuts to the real problem not focusing on something as trivial as drug related deaths, most of which by the way are not from prescription drugs but from heroin, cocaine or fentanyl but suing street dealers is all but impossible.

  38. Trump ?

  39. This thorough article has a lot of important information. And yet, my stupid, distracted brain feels entirely drawn only to one fact: Grenade-shaped soap is a thing.

  40. @Locho You're not alone there.

  41. One month longer of life. This is a headline?

  42. How long until Dictator Trump takes credit for this?

  43. It takes eight paragraphs to say what the new life expectancy is. Next time please don’t bury the news so deep—I may not get to it in time, I’m 76.

  44. Life expectancy stopped dropping. Why? Big Pharma killed enough of us. Now on to the Corona Virus.

  45. So what is the life expectancy noW? I seemed to have missed it.

  46. Great news that American life expectancy rises! Especially for The Silent Generation and The Boomers. Notwithstanding news in 2020 of the spreading global epidemic of coronavirus.

  47. But with gun violence, life expectancy will still be down

  48. @Tredd "In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC. This figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, involved law enforcement or whose circumstances could not be determined. It excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role. (CDC fatality statistics are based on information contained in death certificates.)" I'm fairly certain there were not about 40,000 deaths from self-driving cars.

  49. @Robert F Yes, it's absurd to claim that autonomous cars are killers. But gun deaths that include suicide are odd, because do they count suicides by car as car deaths? For example, some turn the engine on and suffocate. Others drive families off cliffs.

  50. Isn't the "relatively small" increase in suicide rates confirmation that depression is the first and foremost cause of it? We should focus on that, instead of looking for "emerging patterns". Depression is the problem, not a pattern, these statistics seem to say.

  51. @David Godinez Or is depression the result/symptom, not the problem. If you arrive at the hospital with bone sticking out of your arm, the problem isn't "protruding bone" but you broke it elsewhere.

  52. Thank you President Trump! I can't even imagine what would have happened had Hillary been elected.

  53. It is interesting that life expectancy is starting to rise, however there are so many factors to consider that I wonder if it will continue in the coming years. But to see progress, or at least what appears as so, in one area seems somewhat promising. As other have mentioned though, there are issues like obesity that would probably still hold this growth back. And what is worse is that we are already so far behind many other countries that you would think we should be closer to.

  54. @Trevor The wealthier the nation, the more fit it becomes.

  55. Another thing to thank the Trump presidency for! Will be tweeted tonight.

  56. @debating union MAGA!!!

  57. @debating union So the second year of Trump's presidency saw US lifespans decline for the first time in decades, and now you want to thank him for getting us back above where that drop put us (despite the fact that he did literally nothing to affect the number either way)? This is why basic math and logic should be a requirement for voting.

  58. We're not actually living longer--it just seems like it...

  59. I'm pretty sure it just seems longer given the state of things.

  60. As a sociologist I would have appreciated seeing data comparisons for minorities. I check other data and find blacks rates are not at all as improved as hispanics or whites. Similarly, I would like to see the rates of longevity and death arrayed by income. Those who attempt to correlate Trump to improved longevity would probably not care that the pooer and browner you become, life expectancy is down, not up.

  61. @jsinger Interestingly, I think recent research by Nobel economist Angus Deaton and Anne Case,his wife, both of Princeton University, indicates that for this particular population parameter, longevity; results for minorities are improving faster than whites. I think their research shows that large numbers of white males working in manufacturing jobs have been particularly devastated by the changes in employment and wage cuts in this economic sector. As a result, they and their families have been affected cruelly by the losses of these economic opportunities with devastating psychological and physical consequences. [01/30/2020 Th 1:35 pm Greenville NC]

  62. @John Joseph Laffiteau MS in Econ . Changes in employment and wage cuts are NOT causally related to life expectancy. Hardship in life is. Poorer diets. Less education even through HS that lead to poor decisions when none seem present. Total life experience is what is causally related to life expectancy. Not changes in employment and wage cuts. Better some employment than never had any employment. That's what life expectancy is about!

  63. @John Joseph Laffiteau MS in Econ . I checked up on the article you suggested in the Washington Post . . Here's how you missed out understanding how drastically high black life expectancy is : "People were upset at us for not putting black mortality on one of our charts, but the reason it’s not there — which we explain — is that black mortality is so high it doesn’t fit on the graph."

  64. Life expectancy at birth, at 60, at 65, at 70...Life expectancy at birth used to be a reflection of prenatal care and poverty. If the significant factor is now opioid use, have we solved the issue of poverty, at birth, and the issue of smoking and lung cancer? This article does not help.

  65. Universal healthcare just got more expensive

  66. It is interesting to see how drug abuse has a significant impact on life expectancy. It was also interesting to see that America's life expectancy is not that great considering our wealth as a nation. This leads me to wonder what does America have in common with these poorer countries that make our life expectancy rates so low? It surely has to do more with drug abuse. It is interesting to see how drug abuse has a significant impact on life expectancy. It was also interesting to see that America's life expectancy is not that great considering our wealth as a nation. This leads me to wonder what does America have in common with these poorer countries that make our life expectancy rates so low? It surely has to do more with drug abuse.It is interesting to see how drug abuse has a significant impact on life expectancy. It was also interesting to see that America's life expectancy is not that great considering our wealth as a nation. This leads me to wonder what does America have in common with these poorer countries that make our life expectancy rates so low? It surely has to do more with drug abuse. It is interesting to see how drug abuse has a significant impact on life expectancy. It was also interesting to see that America's life expectancy is not that great considering our wealth as a nation. This leads me to wonder what does America have in common with these poorer countries that make our life expectancy rates so low? It surely has to do more with drug abuse.

  67. @Lexi needless to say, America is two countries. The folks in the poor country, have statistics similar to people in other poor countries. People in the rich country have life expectancy and other statistics in keeping with other rich, developed countries.

  68. It shows how this life expectancy stat is nonsense, though. The idea is that someone born today can expect to live this long on average, as if newborns are likely to have AIDS or become opioid addicts.

  69. Canadians live four years longer than we do. Could it be that they have a better health care system?

  70. Why does the life expectancy in years only show up in the 8th paragraph? How can I understand the import of the article if this key measure is given so little importance?

  71. Why do opinion writers continually refer to America as a “ rich country”. Some Americans, perhaps 1% are rich, another 9% are quite comfortable, add to that ten percent who would fall into what once was considered middle class and the other 80% are either hanging on by their toenails and dependent on credit cards to maintain any semblance of a middle class life style or are outright destitute unable to come up with $400.00 in an emergency. As for Ms. Pearsons quandary over why suicide rates are at such high levels for a developed country, ask your politicians, “ business leaders” and globalists like Thomas “ The World is Flat” Friedman, why they have allowed or actively participated in the decimation of the middle class by a relative handful of bankers, multinational companies and war profiteers that destroyed the American Dream, better yet everyone knows who the perps that ripped us off are, why haven’t they all been hung yet, sorry that won’t pass the censors how about why haven’t they been brought to justice yet.

  72. Those who bash the US healthcare system should note that this is yet another data point supporting the thesis that US life expectancy is lower compared to some other countries not because we have a worse healthcare system, but because of opioid use, gun violence, obesity, and other social causes. A nationalized healthcare system will not solve any of these problems.

  73. Let's stop measuring the number of years and start measuring the quality of the years. I believe quality determines the health of our population.

  74. Oh, and as an aside: Winterfest in Portsmouth, Ohio looks like a lot of fun. Really.

  75. Mortality is bad. But its a drop in the bucket of overall morbidity from diseases associated with substance use disorders which will continue and persist. News organizations need to also emphasize those effects and costs because otherwise as soon as only an 'acceptable' number of people are dying the funding will cut off and this whole cycle will just play out again.

  76. There is no American opioid 'crisis' nor ' epidemic'. There is a white European American opioid crime wave that deserves criminal prosecution and mass incarceration. There is no American suicide crisis. There is a white European American Judeo-Christian male suicide problem that deserves better mental healthcare availability and treatment. There is no meaningful improvement in American life expectancy for black African Americans as compared to their white European American Judeo-Christian peers. Americans live separate and unequal color aka race. ethnic, national origin, educational and socioeconomic lives. Being black African American inextricably intertwines caste and class in a physically identifiable minority with a unique history of legally sanctioned slavery and separate and unequal status. The costs to black emotional, mental and physical health and life expectancy is akin to PTSD and apartheid.

  77. It seems the focus has been on white male non-college ex-factory workers of flyover country -- these stereotypical people are supposed to account for this problem (like so many other problems). However, European countries also have such troubled regions but have experienced significant overall increases in life expectancy. Also, such a demographic is not a huge portion of our population, and you would think that increases in life expectancy of other demographics would overwhelm that one's decrease -- resulting in significant overall increases every year. Something -- or a series of things -- must be wrong here, deserving a lot of soul-searching, since we'd (almost) all like longer lives for ourselves and loved ones.

  78. Excuse my cynicism but human life has never seemed in high esteem unless it is immediately "ours". The public health system in the US and health care in general is driven monetarily, not by good will. We start wars as if Disneyland events. What is a few more trillion dollars (note the low ball amounts quoted officially). Then a few more tens of thousands of deaths in the name of patriotism, democracy, and keeping the World safe for capitalism? Be advised as a former member of our Armed Forces I blame only the insanity of politicians and not the diplomacy of the State Department.

  79. Yes, life expectancy increased here in the US however, we lack behind most European countries and of course Canada as far as life expectancy is concerned but also as far as infant mortality and medical care are concerned. Here are some of the statistics: According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health AMERICANS ON AVERAGE CONTINUE TO SPEND MUCH MORE FOR HEALTH CARE—WHILE GETTING LESS CARE—THAN PEOPLE IN OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. Other statistics are the US ranks 26th of 35 OECD countries for life expectancy with an average life expectancy of 79 years and the US rates 29th among OECD countries. These numbers may get worse once Trump cuts Medicare benefits and rolls back all of Obama care and loosening water and air regulations. We all know air and water pollution contributes to poor health. Trump's slogan should be "Let's make America healthy again". Of course there are other issues like vaping and gun related deaths. Realizing these health related issues started long ago prior to Trump's presidency however, things under his leadership may yet get worse. He promised to rail in the cost of prescription drug. That has not happened yet either and I doubt that he has time to do anything about it before the November election. As I see it his motto is "long live the very wealthy and may they live a rich and luxurious life" for he has done very little for the poor and the working class.

  80. Glad for Narcan. Sad we keep hearing more is being done for addiction, like more mental health benefits. Where is it? It’s the very short term, an injection, that’s saving lives, not mental health funding for a long term effect. But wouldn’t it be nice also, to think people are living longer, too, because there has been a real breakthrough in a cure for cancer? We’ve waited a long time for that.