Average US Life Expectancy Declines

Explore US Life Expectancy Statistics by Gender, Ethnicity, State

Study Introduction

Life expectancy gives us a glimpse into the nation’s health, unfortunately, over the past few years the United States has been on the largest continuous decline in expected lifespan for a century. In this definitive guide, we explore all the latest lifespan statistics by state, gender, ethnicity and income to give to summarize the current climate.

Life expectancy at birth definition

The phrase ‘life expectancy at birth’ indicates the lifespan in years of a newborn child if all current mortality factors such as disease, remain the same through its entire life. Unless specified, all American lifespan expectancy figures on this page are ‘at birth’ as a standard.

In this section we cover

What Is The Average Life Expectancy At Birth In The US?

The average lifespan at birth figures in the US, these are the most up to date available from the OECD, CIA, and CDC.

Latest US Average Life Expectancy At Birth Figures:

  • 80.0 Years: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
  • 78.6 Years: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • 78.5 Years: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • * Latest available data is from 2017 | ** Latest available data is from 2016

    There were a total of 2,813,503 resident deaths recorded in 2017, an increase of 69,255 from the previous year. Life expectancy is essentially a snapshot of any populations overall health. Based on the latest OECD figures (a collection of developed nations), the United States falls behind the member countries average lifespan by 1.9 years.

    So What Does the Age Adjusted Death Rate Change of 2016-2017 Look Like?

  • Age groups 25-44 death rates increased significantly.
  • People aged 85 and over also saw increased death rates.
  • Age groups 45-54 decreased in death rates.
  • Non-Hispanic white males and females also increased.
  • Where Does The US Rank In Global Life Expectancy?

    America is ranked 43rd out of 224 countries out of CIA’s World Factbook at 80 years.

    Monaco leads with 89.4 years, followed by Japan (85.3) and Singapore (85.2).

    The CIA data for average expectancy of life is considerably higher than in other studies. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the percentage of developed nations that were classified as high income within this list are low. 

    The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows a good outline of where the United States rests out of 44 developed nations. Countries like Canada, Australia, and the majority of western European counties all rank above the US average of 78.5 years. In fact, there are 18 countries where the residents can expect to live 3 years longer and 25 countries with average lifespans over 80 years.

  • US Ranked 29/44: In the OECD’s developed nation members.
  • US is 1.9 years lower than the OECD’s average life expectancy of 80.5.
  • What Is The Life Expectancy Of An American Male Or Female?

    Gender Specific Figures:

  • Male: 76.1 years - Average life expectancy of a US male (at birth).
  • Female: 81.1 years - Average life expectancy of a US female (at birth).
  • 5.0-year difference between average US female and male lifespan expectancy.
  • Latest available data is from 2017 - OECD

    In almost every country in the world, women outlive men and the US is no exception. Women in the US live longer than men by 5 years, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The main change between the previous year’s data is in the lifespan of younger American males, increasing female’s gap by 0.1 years. Over 65 life expectancy data remained the same:

  • Male over 65: lifespan expectancy is 18.1 years.
  • Female over 65: lifespan expectancy is 20.6 years.
  • Latest available data is from 2017 - OECD

    Which U.S. Ethnic Group Has The Longest Life Expectancy?

    Gender Specific Figures:

  • 86.5 years - Asian-American
  • 82.8 years - Latino
  • 78.9 years - White
  • 76.9 years - Native American
  • 74.6 years - African-American
  • Latest available data is from 2017 - OECD

    According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, there was an 11.9-year gap between Asian American and African American residents from 2016-2017. The ethnic groups with lower life expectancy had higher death rates from heart disease and other common mortality factors detailed below.

  • The 11.9-year gap between Asian American and African American life expectancy.
  • 60% of the deaths in the gap were from heart disease, cancer, homicide, diabetes, and mental health conditions.
  • African-Americans in the US are more likely to die from heart disease
  • White-Americans suicide rates are twice as likely than African-Americans
  • Latest available data is from 2017 - OECD

    In this section we cover

    What Is The Average Americans Lifespan Over Time? (1960-2017)

    Using data from the World Bank and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we’ve mapped the United States average life expectancy at birth from 1960 to 2017 (being the latest date published).

  • Current US life expectancy figures match 2010 (78.6 years)
  • Since 1960, US life expectancy has risen 8.7 years
  • This could be the first decade the US sees zero increase
  • On average, age of death averages have increased each decade. However, recent declines have placed the latest figures in 2017 matching that of 2010 meaning we’ll be entering 2020 with the lowest 10 year increase since the 19th century.


    Life Expectancy (Yrs)

    Increase (Yrs)


    78.6 - 78.6



    76.7 - 78.6



    75.3 - 76.7



    73.7 - 75.3



    70.9 - 73.7



    69.9 - 70.9


    Why Has The US Had The Longest Sustained Lifespan Decline In Over A Century?

  • 2014-2015 – Figures declined from 78.9 to 78.7
  • 2015-2016 – Figures declined from 78.7 to 78.6
  • 2016-2017 – Figures declined from 78.6 to 78.6*
  • *CDC recorded this as a drop by decimal points; this figure was not disclosed

    Since 2010, like in many countries across the world, life expectancy is steadily increasing for the United States. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many other sources, it hit a peak in 2014 and has been on a downward trend since.

  • 2014-2017 was the longest sustained decline in expected lifespan in a century
  • The United States hasn’t declined in expected lifespan for over 2 decades
  • The last decline recorded was 1992-1993, dropping 75.8 to 75.5 years
  • The 2014-2017 drop in the United States life expectancy is the longest sustained downward trend since 1915-1918, where figures were impacted by World War I and an influenza pandemic.

    Projected American Life Expectancy Figures For 2030

  • Male US life expectancy is projected to increase 76.1 to 79.51 years by 2030
  • Female US life expectancy is projected to increase 81.1 to 83.32 years by 2030
  • Studies from the World Health Organization and Imperial College London suggest life expectancy at birth is set to increase significantly in many developed countries by 2030. Countries like Japan and Monaco currently have the highest rates; however, according to this research, France and South Korea are expected to surpass them in the rankings. Furthermore, South Korean women will pass the average age of death expectancy of 90 years for the first time for any country.

    By 2040: According to a new report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the United States is expected to decline in these rankings by 2040. They reviewed their data against the CIA World Factbook data, and it showed an expected decline of 21 spots.

  • The US to drop 21 places in global life expectancy ranking by 2040 (64th)
  • The US currently ranks 43rd place in the world life expectancy (CIA)
  • The underlying reasons the US is set to fall behind are:

  • Lack of universal health insurance
  • Raising obesity levels and correlating diseases
  • Higher rates of child mortality
  • What’s the pattern? In contrast, countries with lower mortality rates share excellent healthcare, low obesity rates, better nutritional diets, and fewer smokers. Of course, this is not pre-ordained, and there is ample time for these projected trajectories to alter their path.


    In this section we cover

    Top 10 Causes In The Average US Life Expectancy Decline

    *Overdoses are included in the ‘unintentional injuries’ category

  • Heart disease and cancer each cause 4x as many deaths as all other leading causes
  • Nationwide, 70,237 people died following a drug overdose in 2017, a 9.6-percent increase over 2016.
  • Suicides took 45,808 lives in 2017
  • 42,000 died from opioid overdoses in 2017
  • The ranking of the top 10 causes of mortality in the US remained the same from 2016 to 2017. The main areas of change came from age-adjusted death rates in suicide, unintentional injuries, diabetes, and pneumonia and influenza.

    We see increases in deaths from obesity, substance abuse, and despair; in fact, the decline in the nation’s emotional well-being has been enough to drag down America’s average length of life.

    The 3 Core Areas Of Change That Caused America’s Lifespan Decay

    The percentage of the USA population that is obese shows a steady increase. Some thought-provoking statistics include:

  • The United States had a 40.59% obesity rate in 2017.
  • Projected obesity set to rise to 46.6% in the next 10 years (almost half the population)
  • Obesity rates rose from 37.06% to 40.59% between 2014-2017
  • US is the highest out of OECD’s 44 developed nations, 5.6% ahead of Chile at #2
  • The average OECD developed nations obesity rate is 19.5%
  • The lowest OECD developed nations obesity rate is Japan at 4.2%
  • In essence, obesity is the leading factor in the decline in America’s average length of life due to its intertwined relationship with leading mortality issues. Some interesting statistics on this include:

  • 57.9% of the calories eaten by Americans come from ultra-processed foods
  • Only 30% come from fresh foods
  • 2 out of 5 of Americans over the age of 20 are obese
  • Being 40lbs overweight cuts 3 years of life expectancy
  • Being 100lbs overweight reduces lifespan by 10 years
  • USA overdose rates show huge increases in deaths from 2014-2017, particularly in males aged 25-54.

  • Overdose deaths per 100,000 increased from 13.8 to 21.7 between 2014-2017
  • In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States.
  • The rate of drug overdose deaths in 2017 was 9.6% higher than the rate in 2016.
  • Adults aged 25–54 had higher rates of drug overdose deaths in 2017
  • In 2017, the states with the highest drug overdose death rates were:
  • West Virginia (57.8 per 100,000)
  • Ohio (46.3 per 100,000)
  • Pennsylvania (44.3 per 100,000)
  • District of Columbia (44.0 per 100,000)
  • One of the leading factors is the increase deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses such as fentanyl analogs, fentanyl, and tramadol.

  • Drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by 45% in 2016-2017
  • 2017 - 70,237 overdose deaths, 47,600 by opioid (67.77%)
  • 2007 - 36,010 overdose deaths, 18,515 by opioid (51.41%)
  • 1999 - 16,849 overdose deaths, 8,048 by opioid (47.76%)
  • Above, the USA suicide rates over time chart shows the steady increase in suicide deaths per 100,000 population.

  • Suicide deaths per 100,000 increased from 13 to 14 between 2014-2017
  • Suicide rate increased 33% from 1999-2017 - 10.5 to 14.0 per 100,000.
  • In 2017, the suicide rate in rural counties was 1.8 times more than most urban counties
  • Suicide deaths per 100,000 for males are up 22.22% per from 1999-2017
  • Suicide deaths per 100,000 for females are up 27.27% per from 1999-2017
  • It’s clear from the data that suicide rates among men are almost 4 times higher than women. However, a study recently published by the JAMA Network Open found that the gap is narrowing in some age groups. Researchers discovered that suicides among girls 10 to 14 years of age have risen by 13% since 2007. Whereas the same age group for boys increased by 7% in the same period.

    Confronting these issues is going to be a huge undertaking, they’re multifaceted problems that require in-depth investigation and are often complex due to economic involvement. It is clear that if we want Americans to climb the rankings and live long lives like other prosperous developed countries, change is needed.

    Some Americans Don't Have Health Coverage

    Percent Of U.S. States Without Health Insurance

  • The number of uninsured Americans has gone up 7 million under Trump
  • United States uninsured rate was 10.9% in 2016 to 13.7% in 2018
  • The critical areas for the decline are in lower income and younger Americans
  • 1 in 6 people in Texas doesn’t have health coverage (17.1%)
  • Compared with 1 in 36 people in Massachusetts doesn’t have health coverage (2.8%)
  • The expected lifespan of the average American is a glimpse into the nation’s health as a whole. This sobering data highlights one of the issues mentioned previously, the countries with lower mortality rates share excellent healthcare.

    Top 5 US states with the best / worst health insurance coverage percentages:

    Top 5 States

    % No Cover



    District of Columbia








    Bottom 5 States

    % No Cover











    Why are uninsured rates increasing with Obamacare still active?

  • Obamacare premiums have been on the rise.
  • Enrollment and outreach funding for Obamacare has been slashed drastically.
  • Under Trump, some states now require you to work to get health coverage.
  • Some Americans believe Obamacare was revoked.

    Life Expectancy In Us By State

    Which States Have The Lowest Average Life Expectancy?

  • Hawaii is the state with the highest life expectancy at birth being 81.5 years
  • Women in Hawaii are the longest living Americans, at 84.3 years
  • Men in Mississippi have the lowest expectancy of life in any state, at 71.4 years
  • Compared to Hawaii, there are only 20 countries that have a higher life expectancy
  • Americans living in much of the South lead shorter lives than the rest of the country.
  • We know from looking at the global figures earlier that health and lifespan expectancy can be drastically dissimilar geographically. In the US, you can expect to live very different timescales depending on the state and county you reside in.

    Top 5 States

    Average Life Expectancy

    1). Hawaii


    2). California


    3). Minnesota


    4). New York


    5). Connecticut


    Bottom 5 States

    Average Life Expectancy

    1). Mississippi


    2). West Virginia


    3). Alabama


    4). Kentucky


    5). Arkansas


    If you live in Hawaii, you can expect to live 6.9 years longer than if you lived in Mississippi, which range increases to 7.3 years for males.

    Longest to shortest US life expectancy at birth states (Hawaii > Mississippi):

  • US Average: 6.9-year expectancy of life difference by US state (74.6 - 81.5)
  • US Male Average: 7.3-year expectancy of life difference by US state (71.4 – 78.7)
  • US Female Average: 6.6-year expectancy of life difference by US state (77.7 – 84.3)

    US States Vs Countries

    Comparing State Specific Life Expectancy Globally

    There’s a 6.9-year difference between living in Mississippi and Hawaii - We decided to investigate deeper into the disparity between states in terms of how long people live. We compared the countries in the CIA’s global life expectancy report to US states, revealing where your lifespan at birth is on a global scale.

    Comparing states to countries enables us to visualize the huge discrepancy in expectancy of life when compared to the global rankings. People living in Mississippi, the lowest state, have the same average lifespan as Montserrat (74.6 years), ranked 122 out of 224 countries. Whereas, residents of Hawaii live as long as people from Anguilla (81.5), the country with the 24th longest lifespan expectancy globally.

    Highest States

  • Hawaii comes in at 81.5 years, matching Anguilla, ranked 24/224 countries
  • California comes in at 81.0 years, matching Finland, ranked 31/224 countries
  • Minnesota comes in at 80.8 years, matching the UK, ranked 35/224 countries
  • New York comes in at 80.7 years, matching Greece, ranked 36/224 countries
  • Lowest States

  • Mississippi comes in at 74.6 years, matching Montserrat, ranked 122/224 countries
  • West Virginia comes in at 74.9 years, matching Thailand, ranked 116/224 countries
  • Alabama comes in at 74.9 years, matching Iraq,  ranked 117/224 countries
  • Kentucky comes in at 75.1 years, matching Syria, ranked 111/224 countries
  • Other exciting pairings are where the state life expectancy matches countries that have been through a conflict of late. Countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya are all matching clustered southern states with low life expectancy such as South Carolina, Alabama, and Kentucky.


    Life Expectancy: Income VS State

    How Much Longer Do The Rich Live In The Us?

    We used income data from a study by JAMA Network by Raj Chetty, his team, and Vox to populate this visualization showing the consistent lifespan disparity between the richest and poorest in every state.

    The Chetty study linked 1.4 billion tax returns to the Social Security Administration from all over the US, measuring mortality data. This data shows that, even now, each step you climb on the income ladder will consistently have a significant impact on your overall health and lifespan.

  • Every step of the income ladder consistently adds years to your life in every state.
  • With a 10-year life expectancy gap between rich and poor residents, the nation’s capital, D.C. has the biggest disparity.
  • Kansas. Michigan, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana have the next largest joint gap of 9 years
  • California, Hawaii, Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, New York, New Jersey are the states with the joint lowest gap of 6 years
  • 1850 to 1874, there was a 20-year gap between the rich and general population’s expectancy of life.
  • This gives a unique view of geographic variability in terms of the relationship between life expectancy and income. There was not one single state where income ​increases negatively impacted lifespan expectancy, and the gap in individual states was alarming.

    The poorest residents in D.C. could expect to live almost 10 years less than the richest. Even at the other end of the gradient, the data shows us there was still a 6 year gap between each end of the income scale.

    Looking back it the 1800’s, there was an upsurge in the availability of medical innovations in which only the very rich could afford. During 1850-1874, there was a 20-year gap between the rich and general population’s average lifespan; the irony is that this gap isn’t too different from the one present in D.C. today.

    This data can also be used by life insurance companies to help them determine their rates based on overall life expectancy.  If you haven't looked into getting covered, don't waste any time because we aren't living longer now days.







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