Life expectancy for American men dropped for a third consecutive year, with the National Center for Health Statistics citing an increase in so-called “deaths of despair,” such as the rise in drug overdose deaths.
The average lifespan of men in the U.S. dipped to 76.1 years in 2017 (the latest data available), amounting to a four-month decline in life expectancy since 2014. The findings shed additional light on economic research into the sharp increase in recent years in deaths from overdoses and suicides among white men with less education.
Princeton economists Anne Case and Nobel laureate Angus Deaton first highlighted the issue in 2015 with their research on how white, less-educated Americans had veered off track. In 1999, the mortality rate for this demographic was about 30% lower than those of African-Americans. But by 2015, their mortality rate had eclipsed that of blacks by 30%, the economists found. The reason? A spike in death rates due to alcohol and drug poisoning, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis.