Trends in the Contribution of Major Causes of Injury Death to U.S. Life Expectancy in an International Context

Andrew Fenelon, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC
Li Hui Chen, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC

Mortality at younger ages is dominated by injury deaths which may help to explain why life expectancy in the United States lags other countries. We examine the contribution of three major causes of injury death (Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, Firearms, and Drug Poisonings) to the gap in life expectancy between the US and other high-income countries. Using data from US vital statistics and the WHO Mortality Database, we show that US men now lose 1.3 years of life expectancy to these three causes, while women lose 0.6 years. Preliminary results suggest that these injuries also make a substantial contribution to the underperformance of the US explaining 22% of the 2.8 year gap with France and 55% of the 1.4 gap with Germany in life expectancy at birth in 2010. Reductions in mortality from these major injury mechanisms would significantly reduce the gap between the United States and its peer countries.

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Presented in Session 147: Mortality Trends