A baby born two years ago could expect to live until about 78.8 years old, an age that's a bit older than those born prior to 2012, according to recent research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics found that life expectancies in the U.S. just keep going up.
"Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group was to experience throughout life the age-specific death rates present in the year of birth," NCHS's website stated. "U.S. life expectancy at birth for the total population was 78.8 years in 2012 — an increase of 0.1 year from 78.7 years in 2011."
If the baby happened to be female, she would actually would have a life expectancy a couple of years beyond the average, 81.2 years. The opposite was seen in males who had a life expectancy of 76.4 years.
"In 2012, the difference in life expectancy between females and males was 4.8 years, the same as in 2011," NCHS stated.
While life expectancies have increased, death rates fell 1.1 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the data. Still, the leading causes of death — heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, etc. — were the same in both years. Infant mortality rates decreased as well by 1.5 percent from 2011 to 2012, making it what the NCHS called a "historic low."
"Much of the recent improvement in death rates and life expectancy for population groups examined can be attributed to reductions in death rates from major causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases," NCHS summarized.
The greatest number of deaths were among non-Hispanic black men, but Elizabeth Arias, a statistician with NCHS, told NPR that the "gap between the non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white population has been declining over time, so it is at its lowest point currently."
Other data breaking down mortality rates on ethnic lines revealed what Arias called the "Hispanic mortality paradox."
"[W]e know for example that socioeconomic status is closely correlated with health and mortality. So then therefore, we expect that they should have higher mortality," Arias told NPR. "But in fact, we've been finding consistently now for some years that they have significantly lower mortality than the non-Hispanic white and the non-Hispanic black population."
Why is this?
"One [explanation] is that it's not real, that it's an issue of bad data. Another one is that it is a migration effect. In other words, that people who emigrate to the U.S. are selected for better health, and that also some of them might return," Arias said.
Overall, Arias revealed to NPR that in the 112 years that the CDC has been tracking mortality rates, it has seen life expectancy increase by 32.9 years for women and 30.1 years for men.
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