Life expectancy fell for the U.S. white population in 2014 and remained flat for all population groups combined, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing how increases in death rates from suicides, drug overdoses and related causes are threatening an important measure of health and prosperity.
The number of years a white American born in 2014 could be expected to live fell to 78.8 years from 78.9 years the year before, according to the CDC. The change was driven largely by women.
Non-Hispanic white women live longer than men and African-Americans of both sexes in the U.S., with a life expectancy at birth of 81.1 years in 2014, according to the CDC. That is a slight decline from 2013, when it was 81.2 years, and the second drop for this group since 2008, when it fell to 80.7 from 80.8 in the previous year. “Basically, we’re back to where it was in 2009,” said Elizabeth Arias,the author of the report, in an interview.
Life expectancy for non-Hispanic white men, at 76.5 years, also fell last year, but by a small amount that isn’t visible due to rounding, Dr. Arias said.
Such reversals, even small ones, are unusual for wealthy nations, where people tend to live longer with each successive generation, as health care and public safety improve and the standard of living rises.