U.S. life expectancy declines again, a dismal trend not seen since World War I

Declining life expectancy is a trend we associate with the collapse of the Soviet Union or the flu epidemic of 1918-1920, not the U.S. in the 21st century. Life expectancy in the United States, however, has declined for 3 straight years through 2017, creating a public health crisis that needs to be far better understood and then addressed in as comprehensive a manner as necessary.

Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises.

The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.

Public health and demographic experts reacted with alarm to the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual statistics, which are considered a reliable barometer of a society’s health. In most developed nations, life expectancy has marched steadily upward for decades.

– The Washington Post

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