International Comparisons of U.S. Mortality

Jessica Y. Ho, University of Pennsylvania

Life expectancy at birth in the United States is lower than in many other high-income countries. As of 2007, life expectancy for American males and females lagged approximately two decades behind the world leaders. Recent studies have concentrated on mortality differences occurring at older ages. However, differences in mortality below age 50 account for 67% of the difference in male life expectancy at birth between the U.S. and the average of a set of comparison countries. For females, this figure is 41%. This finding highlights the importance of refocusing attention on the younger ages. This paper identifies the major causes of death responsible for the U.S.’s poor mortality rankings between ages 0-50 for a recent period. Together, homicide, noncommunicable diseases, and unintentional injuries account for 71% and 66% of the difference in years of life lost between the U.S. and the mean of other countries for males and females, respectively.

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Presented in Session 189: Adult Mortality I