Life Expectancy Of White Americans Slightly Dropped

By Jenn Loro - 21 Apr '16 11:10AM

Life expectancy of white Americans registered a marginal drop in 2014, a U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) study reveals.

The data, taken from the National Vital Statistics System mortality files between 2013 and 2014, revealed that life expectancy for the white population in the U.S. decreased by 0.1 years, from 78.9 in 2013 to 78.8 in 2014.

Life expectancy, NCHS defines, is the "representation of the average number of years that a hypothetical group of infants would live at each attained age if the group was subject, throughout its lifetime, to the age-specific death rates prevailing for the actual population in a given year".

NCHS' Elizabeth Arias, who analyzed and wrote the report, told the New York Times that the significant increase in death of white Americans aged 20-50 affected the life expectancy at birth for that whole group.

"That is very unusual," Dr. Arias quipped, citing drug overdoses, liver disease and suicide as the main drivers in the declining health of white Americans.

NPR cites that Ellen Meara of the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Dartmouth is surprised at the findings as well, especially that it is "happening at a time where everywhere else and for every other group we're seeing all these amazing gains in survival".

But this is not the first recorded drop in the life expectancy of white Americans, the New York Times notes. A decrease was also noted in 2005.

The dip in white American life expectancy, however, did not affect the overall life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population, which remains at 78.8, a good 7.8 years more than the 2013 average life span of the global population.

World Health Organization 2013 statistics show that the U.S. only ranks 35th in global life expectancy at birth, with Japan on the lead with 84 years.

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