This article is about the lower life expectancy in the United States. The US mortality rates up to 20 years ago were the same as other comparable industrial states. Now life expectancy in the US is about 4.5 years lower than in other comparable states. A publication in PLOS ONE summarized this and what the Covid pandemic has done to the US death rates.
The Covid pandemic is behind us now, but the death rate in the US has permanently reduced life expectancy in the US. His was summarized in this article. In the following I am summarizing and commenting on the data from this publication.
Factors involved in the excess death rates of the US
In 2019 excess deaths were 483,000. In 2021 the excess deaths in the US were 892,000. The number increased from 1 in 6 in 2019 to 1 in 4 in 2021. This meant that there was an 84.9% increase in excess deaths between 2019 and 2021. What does “excess deaths” mean? Excess deaths are the actual number of deaths that occur in a given year. This is in comparison with expected deaths over that same time period.
The comparison countries were the five largest countries in Western Europe: England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Although these countries are not quite as wealthy as the US, their combined population is similar in size and diversity to the U.S. population. Another study used these countries also as a control to show that the US had significant more excess death rates since 2000 compared to European countries.
These are the reasons for excess death rates in the US
- Cardiovascular disease has not decreased compared to other Western countries. The driving force is the increasing obesity wave.
- Relative high death rate from Covid pandemic. The obesity wave also was responsible for this. Obese people have a higher mortality rate from Covid than normal weight people.
- Disproportionally high death rates from intentional injuries. This includes homicides from firearms, car accidents and opioid overdoses.
- Racial and economic inequalities are a big factor in combination with a weaker social security net and a lack of health care for all in comparison with European countries. This leads to more unnecessary deaths because of poverty and lack of access to healthcare.
- One big factor, too is the maternal death rate in the US. It is 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. Germany has only 3.2, the UK 6.5, Australia 4.8 per 100,000 live births. The death rate of these mothers also adds to the overall mortality in the US.
Development in the last 50 years
Many European countries in the past 50 years have outpaced the US in the decline of their death rates. The net result is an increased in life expectancy versus a slight decline of the life expectancy in the US. Young people in the US were dying at a higher rate than the rest of society in the early 1990’s and in comparison, to youth in other Western states. Scientists in this link pointed to a combination of homicides, unintentional injuries, largely from motor vehicle accidents and deaths from HIV/AIDS.
Life expectancy in the US has declined in the last few years due to an excess mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Covid. Both of these are due to the rising obesity wave, which causes higher death rates from CVD and a more serious course of Covid in obese people versus normal-weight people. But life expectancy also is reduced due to death rates from intentional injuries. This includes homicides from firearms, car accidents and opioid overdoses. Racial and economic inequalities are a big factor for increased death rates as well. These are due to a weaker social security net and a lack of health care for all in comparison with European countries. The US government has struck a special committee to investigate what can be done to stop excessive death rates and increase life expectancy in the US in line with European data.