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Dec 12, 2016 09:35 PM EST

NCHS: Life Expectancy in the U.S. Drops for the First Time in Decades [Video]


A report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) revealed that there was a drop in America's life expectancy. The first since 1993, the drop is attributed rising deaths because of chronic degenerative diseases, diseases of despair and accidents and unintentional injuries.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill demographer Philip Morgan says it matters a great deal, reports US News. Uninvolved with the research, Morgan says life expectancy is the best indicator of well-being and the a drop in a developed country like the US is something we all should think about.

NCHS used data from 2015 and Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics said that the drop could have been "just a one-time blip" and that the preliminary data from the first half of 2016 is showing it is a possibility. They have to wait for the year to finish before they can know for sure though.

Anderson notes that the 2015 data is worth paying attention to because the death rate that year jumped from 724.6 per 100,000 people to 733.1 per 100,000. While the increase may not be that much, it was significant enough to cause overall life expectancy to drop. A rare incident in the last 50 years. The 1993 dip, for example was caused by increased death rates from AIDS, flu, homicide and accidental deaths.

Overall there was a one-tenth drop in life expectancy rate, from 8.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015.

The Washington Post reports experts showing concern since this is something that is not happening with other Western countries. David Weir from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan observed that there was virtually an increase in all causes of death.

According to data, more than 2.7 million people died and that's an increase of 1.2% for 2015. The leading causes of death remains to be chronic degenerative diseases, including heart diseases, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease which had the highest increase.

Unintentional and accidental deaths also increased as well as mortality rates from diseases of despair: suicide, alcoholism and drug overdose.

Ellen Meara, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and Princeton economist Anne Case related the economic effects of the recession to the increased number of deaths in the last decade.

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