In 2014, life expectancy for white Americans has seen a slight decline, according to a new federal report. The ever-higher rates of dying are blamed on drug overdoses among younger and middle-aged whites who lower the average life spans for the white population in its entirety.
The new federal data, based on all deaths recorded in the United States in 2014, showed that life expectancy for white people has dropped from 78.9 in 2013 to 78.8 years in 2014.
While the percentages for men and women respectively haven’t dropped by a long (0.1 percent in each case), scientists are worried about this new trend and what it means for the future of the American population.
According to Elizabeth Arias, the statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics who processed the data, the increase in death for this particular segment of the population is significant enough “to affect life expectancy at birth for the whole group;” she was referring to whites from their mid-20s to their mid-50s.
Dr. Arias will soon publish a larger study of mortality trends that covers the past 15 years; but for now, she suggests that drug overdoses, suicide, and liver disease were the primary drivers of the somber trends among whites in recent years.
Decades before this study, life expectancy for whites had been on the rise, but recent years have brought a concerning stagnation. In 2012 and 2013, the rate has been flat, and then in 2014, it started declining.
The most recent research showed the death rates among less educated whites with the highest increase. The working-class, younger white and those with no more than a high school education were the ones flagged to die earlier because of suffering and anxiety.
By comparison, life expectancy for blacks saw an unexpected rising to 75.6 in 2014 from 75.5 in 2013, which amounts to more than a year of life expectancy since 2008.
Hispanics have also seen their life expectancy increase with pronounced gains; among Hispanic women, life expectancy rose to 84 years from 83.8 in 2013.
The federal data showed the overall life expectancy for Americans remained unchanged at 78.8. The last time whites saw their death rates increase was in 2005, though scientists are not sure what caused the decline.
Most of the deaths in the US typically occur among people who are 60 or older. Deaths in people who are younger or middle age usually do not influence overall life expectancy, only in the exceptional case that a generation of men goes to war, or a wave of mothers dies in childbirth.
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