Monday, May 8, 2017

Nasty, brutish and short: life expectancy gap in US widens

Welcome to our current and future America---"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." (Hobbes, Leviathan)

Granted, life in the US isn't Hobbesean state of nature bad (yet) but it is certainly shorter than it should be for many Americans:
Your average life expectancy now varies by more than 20 years depending on where you live in the United States, according to an in-depth study by the University of Washington.
America’s “life expectancy gap” is also predicted to grow even wider in future, with 11.5% of US counties having experienced an increase in the risk of death for residents aged 25–45 over the period studied (1980-2014). No previous study has put the disparity at even close to 20 years.
“This is way worse than any of us had assumed,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and one of the authors of the study, published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The researchers found that while residents of certain affluent counties in central Colorado had the highest life expectancy at 87 years, people in several counties of North and South Dakota, typically those with Native American reservations, could expect to die far younger, at only 66.
“The magnitude of these disparities demands action, all the more urgently because inequalities will only increase further if recent trends are allowed to continue uncontested,” the report states.
Overall, the study puts average life expectancy in the US at 79.1 years, an increase of 5.3 years from 1980 – the start of a 35-year period for which the university team compared death records, census returns, the human mortality database and figures from the National Center for Health Statistics on a county-by-county basis. But it concludes that this 5.3-year increase “masks massive variation at the county level”.
“Counties in central Colorado, Alaska and along both coasts experienced much larger increases, while some southern counties in states stretching from Oklahoma to West Virginia saw little, if any, improvement over this same period,” the report says.
“Similarly, there was considerable variation among counties in the percent decline in the mortality risk within each age group. While all counties experienced declines in mortality risk for children 0 to five years, and nearly all experienced declines in the mortality risk for adolescents and older adults 45 to 85, 11.5% [of counties] experienced increases in the risk of death between ages 25 and 45 years.”

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