According to a new report released by the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy in the United States has improved. In fact, it's a record high at 78.8 years for 2012, a jump of 0.1 years from 2011.
But while Americans on the overall are living longer, women are outliving men again, with a life expectancy of 81.2 years. Males are at 76.4 years, a difference of 4.8 years which is the same as the previous year.
Estimates for life expectancy provided in the report are for those born in the year 2012, representing the average length of time an infant group would live if it was to experience death rates specific to ages present during the year of birth.
This puts the average life expectancy of a 65-year-old in 2012 at 19.3 years. Again, women fared better with 20.5 years while the men registered 17.9 years. Life expectancy difference at 65 years old is 2.6 years in 2012, an increase of 0.1 year from 2011's 2.5 years.
This doesn't mean, however, than someone born in 2012 should expect to live shorter than someone who was 65 years old in 2012. Rather, averages for people born in the year 2012 include infant and teen mortality which have rates higher compared to what a group of older people would have.
Behavior and not genetics is probably to blame why women are outliving men. After all, men are likelier to participate in outdoor activities, for example. Even teenage boys have a higher risks of getting into car accidents compared to teenage girls.
The top 10 leading causes of death based on the 2012 report were the same for the previous year. These include suicide, kidney disease, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease. These 10 causes represent 73.8 percent of deaths in the country.
The report also revealed that black males are associated with the highest death rates and that black females are also likelier to die earlier than their white counterparts. Some of the reasons for this trend has to do with higher incidences of heart disease and double the rate of hypertension in blacks. Considered a form of unintentional injury, homicide rates are also higher in blacks, a 5.2 versus the 2.5 for non-Hispanic whites for every 100,000 individuals.
"Death rates in 2012 continued to decline among most groups defined by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. Although changes in mortality are relatively small from one year to the next, long-term trends show the apparent progress in reducing mortality," concluded the report.