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Marketplace

U.S. death rate increases for the first time in a decade

Dan Gorenstein Jun 1, 2016
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This is one of just a few times in the past 25 years the death rate has gone up.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Some concerning news out Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the death rate among all Americans rose for the first time in a decade.

The age adjusted-death rate for all causes jumped from 723.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, to 729.5 deaths in 2015. 

Researchers note this is one of just a few times in the past 25 years the death rate has gone up.

The stats, based on preliminary federal data, point to a climb in Alzheimer’s, shootings, drug overdoses and suicides. Deaths from heart disease were essentially flat last year.

Anne Case and Angus Deaton from Princeton last year found that death rates among whites, particularly those with less education, rose —  primarily due to drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.

There was a separate study on white women which drew similar conclusions.

Jennifer Karas Montez of Syracuse University told the BBC recently, “between 1990 and 2010, life expectancy of low- educated white women declined by 1.2 years. So in essence, that 1.2 years is about 13 years of progress washed away. So what seemed to be minor changes in life expectancy … signal really big problems going on underneath the surface.”

On top of the rise in mortality, Case and Deaton said there are declines in self-reported health, mental health and the number of people with the ability to work, and an increase in the number of people living with pain.

These findings raise the question of whether the spike in white mortality is driving this larger death trend noted by the CDC.

A final report is due out later this year. 

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