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High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults (2021)

22 Sep 2021 6:08 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

Young and middle-aged adults (25-64 years old) in the U.S. have been dying at higher rates since 2010, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults says that rising death rates are striking working-age Americans, whose risk of dying from certain conditions — such as drug overdoses or hypertensive heart disease — has been climbing since the 1990s.

The comprehensive report, based on data from 1990-2017, documents a public health crisis sweeping the American workforce, which has profound implications for families, employers, and the U.S. economy. This trend was prevalent before the pandemic arrived, but working-age Americans have been deeply affected by the pandemic, the report notes. Americans are more likely to die before age 65 than peers in other rich nations.

The rising death rate is due primarily to drug overdoses, alcohol, suicides, and cardiometabolic conditions — a category that includes diabetes and heart diseases caused by high blood pressure and other conditions. The report recommends urgent policy actions in light of this crisis, including addressing the overdose epidemic, the underlying causes of substance use disorders more broadly, access to mental health services, and stronger efforts to tackle obesity.

New Report release: The past century has witnessed remarkable advances in life expectancy in the United States and throughout the world. In 2010, however, progress in life expectancy in the United States began to stall, despite continuing to increase in other high-income countries. Alarmingly, U.S. life expectancy fell between 2014 and 2015 and continued to decline through 2017, the longest sustained decline in life expectancy in a century (since the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919). The recent decline in U.S. life expectancy appears to have been the product of two trends: (1) an increase in mortality among middle-aged and younger adults, defined as those aged 25-64 years (i.e., "working age"), which began in the 1990s for several specific causes of death (e.g., drug- and alcohol-related causes and suicide); and (2) a slowing of declines in working-age mortality due to other causes of death (mainly cardiovascular diseases) after 2010.

Download: High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults | The National Academies Press (nap.edu)

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