A new data brief about life expectancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics arrives one week after a study that found that Americans are living longer but in poorer health.
Life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population did not change between 2013 and 2014, according to the publication. Overall, it remains 78.8 years for men and 81.2 years for women.
Life expectancy at birth also remained unchanged for non-Hispanic white males. It did change for some, however:
- Non-Hispanic black men saw an increase in life expectancy at birth increased of 0.4 years.
- Hispanic men saw an increase in life expectancy at birth of 0.1 years.
- Hispanic women saw an increase in life expectancy at birth of 0.2 years.
- Non-Hispanic white females saw a decrease in life expectancy at birth of 0.1 years.
- Hispanic males experienced the greatest increase in life expectancy at age 65 (0.3 years), followed by Hispanic females (0.2 years). All other groups experienced a 0.1-year increase in life expectancy at age 65.
“This is the first time in over 20 years that a decline in life expectancy at birth has been observed for any group in the United States,” the report notes.
The NCHS brief was issued just one week after a study led by the University of Southern California that found that Americans are living longer but in poorer health.
The study, published online April 13 in the American Journal of Public Health, examined life expectancy trends and disability rates in a 40-year period, from 1970 to 2010. The analysis of U.S. vital statistics found that the average total lifespan increased for men and women in those 40 years, but so did the proportion of time spent living with a disability.
“We could be increasing the length of poor quality life more than good-quality life,” said lead author Eileen Crimmins, Ph.D. (pictured; photo by John Skalicky/USC), a professor of gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. “There are a number of indications that the baby boomer generation that is now reaching old age is not seeing improvements in health similar to the older groups that went before them.”
The researchers found that a “compression of morbidity” — a reduction in the proportion of years spent with disability — existed only for people currently aged 65 or more years. The findings have significant implications for policymaking, such as proposals to raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare eligibility, they said.