by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
U.S. life expectancy decreased for the third year in a row in 2017, a trend that hasn’t been observed in 100 years.
The finding comes from a series of reports released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They showed that drug overdoses and suicides fueled the trend, resulting in earlier deaths and a changed view of how long people in the U.S. can expect to live.
Life expectancy for the U.S. population declined from 78.7 years in 2016 to 78.6 years in 2017. The life expectancy for women was unchanged, at 81.1 years, but for men it decreased from 76.2 years in 2016 to 76.1 years. Rates of death increased most among white men and women, and among adults between the ages of 25 to 34.
“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” CDC director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Similar trends have not been observed in other parts of the developed world, and the tendency in the U.S. has otherwise been for life expectancy to increase from year to year because of medical advances and better public health measures.