The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced yesterday that US life expectancy fell for the second consecutive year in 2016. This is the first time we’ve seen a multi-year drop in life expectancy in over a half century (1962).
According to the report, the average life expectancy fell to 76.1 years for American men and 81.1 years for American women – both down slightly from 2015 and 2014.
“It’s certainly concerning to see this two years in a row,” says Bob Anderson, who leads the CDC’s mortality statistics branch.
The leading causes of death remain unchanged, and foremost among them are: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of deaths from suicide.
Deaths from drug overdoses increased by a whopping 21% in 2016. “It just keeps going up and appears to be accelerating,” says Anderson. There were an estimated 63,600 overdose deaths in 2016; at least 42,000 of those were caused by opioids.
Mr. Anderson notes that the CDC already has data for the first half of 2017, and it suggests we are in for another year of increases in drug-related deaths. He notes that we have not seen three consecutive years of declining life expectancy since the “Spanish Flu” 100 years ago.
The overdose death rate is the highest in the state of West Virginia, which has a rate of 52 drug-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Ohio and New Hampshire came in second and third.
The United States continues to lag behind dozens of other developed countries in life expectancy. The highest is Japan, with a life expectancy of nearly 84 years.
Finally, the supporters of Obamacare claim that more people have access to healthcare, and there are statistics to support such claims. Never mind the fact that our population gets larger each year.
Yet the latest report from the CDC showing that our life expectancy rates are falling, likely for the third year in a row, confirms that we are not healthier, even with greater access to healthcare. This is a serious trend!
GALLUP: The Happiest Countries in the World
Each year, Gallup surveys people in more than 140 countries on a variety of topics. One of those topics is overall “happiness” versus unhappiness. While the global economy has been very strong this year, Gallup found that overall happiness is declining in many countries.
Researchers at Gallup are not sure why this trend toward unhappiness is happening. They note that the level of unhappiness accelerated with the global financial crisis of late 2007-early 2009, no surprise there. Yet they are baffled as to why this trend has continued to worsen in many countries around the world, even as the global economy has rebounded strongly.
When Gallup poses this happiness/unhappiness question in its surveys, it asks respondents to rank their level of happiness on a scale from 10 (happiest) to 0 (unhappiest). Here are the top 20 happiest countries in 2016:
World Happiness Rankings 2014-2016
You’ll notice that people in the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, etc.) rate their lives best — 7.5 on average. The lowest ranking countries in terms of happiness (not shown above) include Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central Africa Republic, which rate their lives at only 3.0 on average.
You’ll also notice that the United Kingdom is near the bottom of the top 20 happiest countries. Recall that a majority of Britain’s voters (51.9%) elected to withdraw from the European Union in 2016 (“Brexit”), and one would assume that made them happy. Looks like they are having second thoughts.
And you’ll also notice that the United States is not doing so great either, at number 14 on the top 20 list. We’ve been much higher in years past. I have some theories on why the US is dropping in the happiness index, but I’ll have to save those thoughts for another time due to space limitations in the Blog.
I’ll end today by wishing all of my clients and readers a Very Happy New Year for 2018! Thank you all for your continued support. As always, I greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming.