A Closer Look at the United States Life Expectancy
Life expectancy is the average number of years expected left to live in group of individuals who are born in the same year. These values can also be given based on the expected remaining years based on a given age instead of the expectancy when born (at the age of 0). This is often done to take infant mortality into account, which can greatly distort life expectancy averages, if the rate of infant mortality is high.
Because many mortalities specific to age have been reduced, the life expectancy in the United States has increased dramatically over the last century. In addition, fertility has decreased considerably in the population, leading to a rapidly aging population, which a higher percentage of individuals who are at least 65 years old.
As of 2011, the life expectancy of Americans is currently 78.37 years. The United States has the 50th longest life expectancy of its citizens out of 222 counties, being surpassed by many others including Japan, Italy, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Norway, and many others, all which have life expectancy rates over 80 years.
Most variations in life expectancy rates globally are due to differences in medical care, public health, and diet. However, in poorer nations and third world countries, a dramatically lower rate can result from mortality from disease, war and starvation. An example of this would be in South Africa, where life expectancy should be approximately 69.9 years but is instead measured to be around 41.5 years due to the prevalence of AIDS.
The average life expectancies among the majority of countries are no constant between men or women. Men typically have a lower life expectancy in comparison to women. Currently, men have an expectancy of 75.92 years while women have a life expectancy of 80.93 years.
Life expectancies have been growing significantly as more medical and technological advances have been made. From 1900 to 1902, the expectancy in the United States was 49.2 years (97.9 for men and 50.7 for women). This average increased by 10 years by 1930 and nearly another 10 by 1950. Since then, it has steadily increased up till today’s value.
While the life expectancy has grown considerably in the United States, this does not eliminate the fact that there are certain conditions that are more likely to affect an individual be the cause of death.
As of 2009, the 15 leading causes of death and the death rates according to the CDC were:
• Heart diseases or heart conditions: 598,607
• Malignant neoplasms (cancer): 568,668
• Chronic lower respiratory conditions: 137,082
• Cerebrovascular conditions: 128,603
• Unintentional injuries: 117,176
• Alzheimer’s disease: 78,889
• Diabetes Mellitus: 68,504
• Pneumonia or influenza:53,582
• Nephritis: 48714
• Suicide: 36,547
• Septicemia: 35,587
• Cirrhosis or chronic liver disease: 30,444
• Hypertension or hypertensive renal disease: 25,651
• Parkinson’s disease: 20,552
• Homicide: 16,591