Longer Lives Predicted for Americans

Life expectancy in US increased in latest CDC estimates

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Statisticians and health officials are constantly examining longevity and estimating length of life. These experts have now released new data on life expectancy for the US population.

The new report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated how long people born in 2009 could be expected to live.

This report estimated that the average life expectancy in the US for 2009 was 78.5 years — an increase from previous years.

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The report, authored by Elizabeth Arias, PhD, of the Division of Vital Statistics at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, used a variety of sources to estimate the 2009 life expectancy, including the final 2009 mortality statistics, 2009 population estimates based on the 2000 census and Medicare data from 2009.

After analyzing the data, Dr. Arias estimated that the overall life expectancy for someone born in the US in 2009 was 78.5 years.

This estimation represented an increase of 0.4 years from the overall life expectancy estimated in 2008 (78.1 years).

"Life expectancy at birth increased in 2009 over 2008 because of decreases in mortality from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases," Dr. Arias wrote.

However, increases in deaths from chronic liver disease and suicide slightly offset the progress made in decreasing these other types of mortality.

Life expectancy for males increased from 75.6 years to 76 years between 2008 and 2009 and from 80.6 years to 80.9 years for females.

Dr. Arias noted that the increase in life expectancy for males could be attributed to a reduction of deaths from heart disease, unintentional injuries, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and homicide. For females, life expectancy increased thanks to a reduction of deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

Expected length of life in 2009 increased among all racial groups. Life expectancy for the white population in 2009 increased from 78.5 years to 78.8 years, from 74.0 years to 74.5 years for the black population and from 81.0 years to 81.2 years for the Hispanic population.

It is important to note that these numbers are estimates based on a hypothetical population. As Dr. Arias explained, the findings provide "a 'snap­-shot' of current mortality experience."

The study was published January 6 in National Vital Statistics Reports. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
January 8, 2014
Last Updated:
March 25, 2015