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7 Figures: Mortality in the United States

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7figuresInformation on mortality — when we die, how we die, causes of death — is a key to understanding changes in the health and well-being of nation. The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report on mortality in the United States based on the latest annual data (2012) that reveals the (mostly) positive changes in America’s health.

Here are seven figures you should know from the report:

1. Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group was to experience throughout life the age-specific death rates present in the year of birth. Life expectancy at birth for the U.S. population reached a record high of 78.8 years in 2012.

2. In 2012, life expectancy was 81.2 years for females and 76.4 for males. Life expectancy for females was consistently higher than that for males by a difference of 4.8 years.

3. On average, if a person reaches the age of 65 they have a remaining life expectancy of 20.5 years for females (age 85) and 17.9 years for males (age 82).

4. The 10 leading causes of death accounted for 73.8 percent of all deaths in the U.S. (The top 10 causes, in order, were: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.)

5. From 2011 to 2012, age-adjusted death rates declined significantly for 8 of 10 leading causes of death. The rate decreased 1.8 percent for heart disease, 1.5 percent for cancer, 2.4 percent for chronic lower respiratory diseases, 2.6 percent for stroke, 3.6 percent for Alzheimer’s disease, 1.9 percent for diabetes, 8.3 percent for influenza and pneumonia, and 2.2 percent for kidney disease. The rate for suicide increased 2.4 percent. The rate for unintentional injuries remained the same.

6. In 2012, a total of 23,629 deaths occurred in children under age 1 year, 356 fewer infant deaths than in 2011.

7. The 10 leading causes of infant death in 2012 accounted for 69.8 percent of all infant deaths in the U.S. (The top 10 causes, in order, were: congenital malformations, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal complications, unintentional injuries, cord and placental complications, bacterial sepsis of newborn, respiratory distress of newborn, diseases of the circulatory system, and neonatal hemorrhage.)

Other entries in this series:

Prevalence of Violence Against Children • Hunger in America • As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger • Trafficking in Persons Report • American Time Use Survey • The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the U.S. • Inmate Sexual Victimization by Correctional Authorities • Tax Day Edition • Wages and Employment in America

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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