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Why Life Expectancy For White American Women Sees Rare Decline

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Life expectancy for white American women has dropped a little from 2013 to 2014, marking a rare decline for a major demographic group in the United States, a new report revealed.

Specifically, white American women lost about a month from their projected lifespan, from 81 years and 2 months to 81 years and 1 month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday.

The reason for this uncommon statistical drop may be consistent with other studies which show that suicides, drug overdoses, and diseases linked to heavy alcohol drinking and smoking kill a huge number of white Americans, especially women.

"Taken by itself, it could just be a random fluctuation from one year to the next," said demographer Elizabeth Arias of the National Center for Health Statistics.

But Arias, upon digging a little deeper into records over the last 15 years, saw that for 25-year-old to 54-year-old Americans, cases of suicide increased. She said cases for chronic liver disease as well as unintentional poisonings by drug and alcohol abuse all went up.

All these factors affect both men and women, but had more impact among women. Meanwhile, there was no change in the life expectancy of white American men.

Additionally, Wednesday's report suggests that Americans have collectively lost momentum in the case of longer life, meaning, longevity in the country has remained stagnant since 2010.

Arias said another study will soon be published detailing the sharp increases in alcoholism-related diseases, overdose, and suicide.

The report also revealed improving numbers for Hispanic and African American populations in the country, in which longevity for Hispanic men and women increased by two months.

Life expectancy for Blacks increased by a month, driven by a large jump among Black men from 71 years and 8 months to 72 years and 2 months.

Arias, who wrote the accompanying brief for the report, said the gap between Black and White populations is rapidly closing, mostly because the Black population is seeing a great decline in mortality.

In November 2015, a report by Angus Deaton and Anne Case revealed that mortality rates for white men and women aged 45 to 54 had increased between 1999 and 2013. The study linked the spike in mortality to drug and alcohol abuse, liver disease, and suicide.

Photo: M.R. Hayata | Flickr

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