Study links US mortality rates under age 50 to life expectancy lagging other high-income countries

March 12, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Higher mortality rates among Americans younger than 50 are responsible for much of why life expectancy is lower in the United States than most of the world's most developed nations.

The research, by Jessica Ho, a University of Pennsylvania doctoral candidate in demography and sociology, found that among Americans younger than 50 accounted for two-thirds of the gap in life expectancy at birth between American males and their counterparts and two-fifths between females and their counterparts in the comparison countries.

The study, "Mortality Under Age 50 Accounts for Much of the Fact That U.S. Life Expectancy Lags That of Other High-Income Countries," is published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Ho used cross-national mortality data from 2006-2008 to identify the key age groups and causes of death responsible for the U.S. life-expectancy shortfall.

Most of the excess mortality of those younger than 50 was caused by , including perinatal conditions, such as pregnancy complications and birth trauma, and homicide and unintentional injuries including drug overdose, a fact that she said constitutes a striking finding of the study.

"These deaths have flown under the radar until recently," Ho said. "This study shows that they are an important factor in our life expectancy shortfall relative to other countries."

She said that the majority of the stemmed from prescription drug use.

Ho said her study underscores the importance of focusing on policies to prevent the major causes of deaths below age 50 and to reduce the that lead to them.

She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and has consulted for the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Understanding International Health Differences in High-Income Countries.

Explore further: US health disadvantage spans age and socioeconomic groups

Related Stories

US health disadvantage spans age and socioeconomic groups

January 9, 2013
On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries, says a new report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. The report finds ...

World population gains more than a decade's life expectancy since 1970

December 13, 2012
In the first Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 paper, published in The Lancet, the authors present new estimates of life expectancy for the last four decades in 187 different countries. While overall life expectancy is ...

European women live longer than men, but not better

August 29, 2011
European women live longer than men, because of both biological and behavioural advantages, but women's longer lives are not necessarily healthy lives. Studies commented on by Dr Vannuzzo at the ESC Congress 2011, show that ...

Recommended for you

Women's sexual orientation linked to (un)happiness about birth

December 11, 2017
Unhappiness about a pregnancy or birth has been associated with negative health outcomes for mothers and babies. Yet, unhappiness about a pregnancy or birth has been understudied, particularly among sexual minority (non-heterosexual) ...

Social media trends can predict tipping points in vaccine scares

December 11, 2017
Analyzing trends on Twitter and Google can help predict vaccine scares that can lead to disease outbreaks, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Health warnings on cigarettes could deter young people

December 11, 2017
Young people are less likely to try cigarettes with the printed health warning 'Smoking kills' on each stick than standard cigarettes, according to a new study by Cancer Research UK published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Multiple health implications of women's early marriage go beyond early childbearing

December 11, 2017
A new study of four South Asian countries reveals complex associations between early marriage and women's education, health and nutrition that go beyond the impacts of early childbearing. These health implications—which ...

Over 50s with fewer than 20 teeth at higher risk of musculoskeletal frailty

December 11, 2017
New research by scientists at King's College London has found that tooth loss may contribute to musculoskeletal frailty in the over 50s, with those with fewer than 20 teeth being at greatest risk.

Poor sleep could lead to heavier drinking in young adults, study finds

December 8, 2017
A shortened night of sleep may increase young adults' risk of heavier drinking, according to a new Yale study that assessed reciprocal variations in sleep and drinking over time in young adults.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2013

A rate is why life expectancy is lower.
A cause is why life expectancy is lower.

The caption.
The body of context.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.