Working-age Americans have been dying at higher rates over the past three decades, according to a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study.
“We’re losing more and more Americans in the prime of their lives, in their most productive years and in their parenting years,” University of North Carolina sociology professor Kathleen Mullan Harris, who authored the study, told CNN.
“Beginning in 2010, progress in life expectancy stalled in the United States. Then between 2014 and 2017, life expectancy fell for three years in a row.”
It is the largest 3-year decline in life expectancy since the 1918 Spanish flu, and it comes before data is complete on the global coronavirus pandemic, according to CNN. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported life expectancy dropped by 1 year in the first half of 2020 amid the pandemic.
Among the causes of death for working-age Americans between 1990 and 2017 were drug overdose, alcohol abuse, and suicide, according to the study.
“The period during which this mortality rate occurred was a period in which many parts of the country and many communities suffered significantly in terms of their economic circumstance,” Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Dr. Steven Woolf told CNN.
Cardiometabolic conditions like diabetes and heart disease also drive the trend of Americans being more likely to die before 65 than those in other rich nations, according to the report.
Also, those 25-44 have grown in an era of widespread obesity, due to unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, per the report.
“We also have to look upstream to what you might call the causes of the causes,” Woolf said. “What are the living conditions, what is it about life in America that is increasing the vulnerability of our communities, families, and individuals?
“We really need to think about the economy and how it’s left certain communities that very vulnerable — for example, to the collapse of manufacturing jobs and mining jobs — how to adapt our social and economic policies in a way that not only rescue their economic circumstances but also improve their health.”
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