Life expectancy decreases in some locations
Since the early 1960s, average life expectancy in the
“The fact that the health of a pretty large part of the population is stagnating or getting worse is a pretty unusual thing,” says study coauthor Majid Ezzati, a population researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in
Women still live longer than men. From 1961 to 1999, the average life expectancy for men in the
That’s good news, but the first half of that span tells a different story from the second. While men gained four years over the first half and women gained five, their situations reversed in the 1980s and 1990s, when men added three more years of life while women tacked on just one.
What’s more, the trend to live longer stopped or reversed in many parts of the Deep South,
The researchers used data compiled by the
“The researchers have identified that there are actual pockets — geographical areas — in the United States that have experienced certain periods in which people fared quite poorly,” says epidemiologist Sam Harper of McGill University in Montreal, who didn’t participate in this study. “But the long-term trend is still quite positive.”
Meanwhile, the data confirm that the
While women still live longer than men, women’s slowing gains in recent decades might be due to more smoking during this four-decade period, Harper says. “The smoking epidemic has already gone through men in some ways,” he says. Its impact on women might still be showing up, even though many women have since quit and fewer are starting.
Millions of people are also uninsured in the
Ezzati, M., et al. 2008. The reversal of fortunes: Trends in county
mortality and cross-county mortality disparities in the United States. PLoS Medicine 5:e66.
Krieger, N., et al. 2008. The fall and rise of US inequities in premature mortality: 1960–2002. PLoS Medicine 5:e46.