What The Latest Mortality Rate Data Says About Early Death, the Deep South, and Black Lives

What The Latest Mortality Rate Data Says About Early Death, the Deep South, and Black Lives


Photo by Klaus Nielsen

Americans aren’t living as long as they used to. From 2019 to 2021, life expectancy in the U.S. decreased by 2.7 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the mortality rate has increased. The CDC estimates life expectancy at birth in the U.S. decreased to 76.1 years in 2021, down 2.7 years from 78.8 years in 2019. In 2020, it was 77.28. In August 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Black Americans’ life expectancy declined to about 71 years over the last two years.

Interestingly, the states with the higher mortality rates are states that were slave states. Former Confederacy states have a lower life expectancy.

Those living in the rural South, especially in the Appalachia and Mississippi Delta region, have the lowest life expectancy in the country and the highest mortality rates due to heart, lung, blood, and sleep (HLBS) disorders; stroke; and cancer, according to the National Library of Medicine.

So why are Americans experiencing early deaths? Some of the blame has been placed on covid-19, but experts say it’s a number of factors, from access to healthcare to lifestyle and diet.

The U.S. has tended to have a poor record of life expectancy, but now American lives have grown progressively shorter in relation to peer countries. A household income of about £65,000 or $100,000 will live to an average age of 85 in England yet only 80 in the U.S., The Financial Times reported.

The life expectancy for children is also lower. American children are now less likely to reach adulthood, according to an editorial published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

During the pandemic, children and teens had greater access to firearms and opioids as a mental health crisis deepened. These factors contributed to the 20 percent increase in pediatric mortality, said researchers.

Infant mortality also increases, especially for Black infants, PBS reported. The infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) in the U.S. was highest for Black infants (10.3), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (7.8), whites (4.8) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0), according to the March of Dimes.

The maternal death rate among Black Americans is much higher than other racial groups; in 2021, it was 69.9 per 100,000, which is 2.6 times higher than the rate for white women, NPR reported.

Social and economic factors, racism, and chronic stress contribute to poor maternal and infant health outcomes, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen: https://www.pexels.com/photo/pensive-black-patient-discussing-diagnosis-with-doctor-in-hospital-6303646/