This story has been brewing for a while. It is that death rates have fallen ahead of expectations. This also shows that expectations are rising. Whether the recent pronounced fall is simply a statistical anomaly or caused by a specific change is not clearly determined as yet.
I can make a conjecture or two. During the early eighties, for reasons not terribly obvious at the time, the boomer generation not only began dumping the smoking habit, but also decided to closely manage their drinking.
It was no longer cool to become drunk out of ones mind. Those are two changes that were a clear break with the previous generational practice, or at least appeared to be.
The decline of smoking was remarked and visible, while the tighter management of alcohol was largely invisible. It was remarked more by hosts having to take back half the liquor brought in for a party.
Both changes promote better health outcomes. We forget that chronic low level drinking that occurs everyday, does damage to the liver and also promotes diabetes.
These changes have been in place for a good twenty years and that suggests that the effects on life span should now begin showing up as the boomer generation moves into their final decades.
To put this into proper perspective, if we had a serious shift in behavior in only twenty percent of the population and I believe that that is conservative, and that proportion added a reasonable ten years to their respective life spans, then that accounts for a shift in the statistics of about two years, and as noted, its appearance is simply timely.
As noted quitting smoking consistently adds a solid decade to an individual life span and management of drinking postpones the advent of diabetes by a decade also. Unfortunately, they are not additive. Most likely individuals did both and strongly reinforced their gains. Thus, in retrospect the present sudden jump in apparent life spans is consistent with past behavior that was partly unremarked upon.
All this means that boomer life spans will average in at eighty plus.
August 19, 2009
Life Expectency in the USA has increased and total deaths have fallen
The preliminary number of deaths in the United States for 2007 was 2,423,995, representing a decrease of 2,269 from the 2006 total. The crude death rate of 803.7 per 100,000 population was 0.83 percent less than the rate of 810.4 per 100,000 in 2006. The estimated age-adjusted death rate, which accounts for changes in the age distribution of the population, reached a record low of 760.3 per 100,000 U.S. standard population, 2.1 percent lower than the 2006 rate of 776.5. illustrates the pattern of decline in both crude and age-adjusted death rates from 1980 through 2007. In 2007, age-adjusted death rates decreased from 2006 by 2.1 percent for males and by 2.2 percent for females. All of the sex, race, and Hispanic origin groups described in this report showed significant decreases in the age-adjusted death rate in 2007 from 2006, with the exception of ASIAN males, who experienced a decrease that was not statistically significant. The relative magnitudes of these decreases in age-adjusted death rates by sex, race, and Hispanic origin are:
* White males (1.7 percent)
* White females (1.8 percent)
* Non-Hispanic white males (1.4 percent)
* Non-Hispanic white females (1.4 percent)
* Black males (4.1 percent)
* Black females (4.0 percent)
* Non-Hispanic black males (4.1 percent)
* Non-Hispanic black females (3.9 percent)
* ASIAN males (0.4 percent, not significant)
* ASIAN females (4.7 percent)
* API males (4.2 percent) [Asia Pacific Islander - API)
* API females (4.8 percent)
* Hispanic males (5.5 percent)
* Hispanic females (6.6 percent)
Diseases of heart, decreased by 4.7 percent. The age-adjusted death rate for Malignant neoplasms decreased by 1.8 percent
The HIV death rate dropped 10 percent, the biggest one-year decline in 10 years
Michael Darling at the Speculist rightly points out that these statistics are really for the actual life expectency of people born around 1929 who ended up in America at the time of their death. Average age of death of those who died in 2007. Back in 1929 the estimate of life expectancy was 58, which was the actual of amount of life expectancy for people born in 1871. So people born in 1929 did 21 years better than those born in 1871. How will those born in 2009 actually do in terms of average lifespan ? Probably a lot better than 78 years. How about the average of the likely number of years of life left for people who are now 40 ? It is a lot more than 38 years because those alive now at 40 have made it past all infant and childhood and early adult risks. If you do a few things right (don't smoke, drink only in moderation, exercise, get checkups and know your family medical history and actively work to prevent or detect your personal risks) then you have a very good chance of making to 90+ years of age even without breakthroughs. Supporting Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) projects, like the recent successful fundraising for laser ablation of libofuscin, will help accelerate the life extension breakthroughs