How Americans Die

Life expectancy for Americans declined in 2015, the first such decline since 1999.  (The 2015 data are just now becoming available.)

The leading causes of death are in the list below.  The ones marked with an asterisk (*) showed an increase in incidence in the current report.

  1. *Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. *Chronic lower respiratory tract diseases
  4. *Accidents (unintentional injuries)
  5. *Stroke
  6. *Alzheimer’s disease
  7. *Diabetes
  8. Influenza and pneumonia
  9. *Kidney disease
  10. *Suicide

Cancer as a cause of death has actually declined.

Overall, the change is small — the equivalent of the loss of about 6 weeks of life.  However, the small overall change masks meaningful changes in subgroups of the population.

It is well established that life expectancy varies with wealth in the US (Chetty et. al.).

Being poor in the United States is so hazardous to your health, a new study shows, that the average life expectancy of the lowest-income classes in America is now equal to that in Sudan or Pakistan.” (Reuell)

Life expectancy also varies by location in the US, as does access to state-of-the-art healthcare.  The Reuell article shows maps of the US, reproduced below.  Darker colors indicate shorter life expectancy. Frankly, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Nevada are questionable places to live.  The Northern Plains region gets a pass in this analysis due to lack of data.

The best places to live appear to be New England, Arizona, Utah, Colorado. Minnesota and the West Coast.  Women fare better in the South than men do.  Conversely, men fare relatively better than women in Hawaii.


Of course the gender comparisons are always relative.  Women simply live longer.




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