Death may be inevitable, but a new report shows the risk of death isn’t what it used to be. In fact researchers found the risk of dying in the USA has dropped by 60% over the last 75 years. Similar figures exist for the rest of the developed world.
The risk of death has decreased for all age groups, but the biggest improvement has been among young people. The death rate among children aged 1-4 declined 94% from 1935 to 2010, compared with a 38% decline among adults aged 85 or more.
That’s done a great deal to raise the average life expectancy, which childhood deaths drag down.
In 1935, the top five causes of death were heart disease, cancer, stroke, kidney disease, and flu/pneumonia. By 2010, the pattern was slightly different. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke were among the top five causes of death every year between 1935 and 2010. By 2010, chronic respiratory diseases and accidents replaced kidney disease and flu/pneumonia in the top five.
The report shows overall death rates between 1935 to 2010 dropped by more than 50% for all but the extreme old age group.
The biggest reduction was among the young, but declining death rates were also seen among the elderly. For example, death rates dropped by 62% among people aged 65-74, 58% among those 75-84, and 38% for people 85 and older.
Researchers say the gap in death rates between men and women peaked in 1975-1981. At that time men had almost double the risk of death (1.7 male deaths per female death). The gap has since dropped to 1.4 in 2000-2010. Men have consistently had a higher death rate than women over the last 75 years.
Of course the final risk of death in both sexes is 100% (so far)!
If you want to stay out the mortality statistics as long as possible, read my How to Live Beyond 100 Years book. It’s a knockout!
[SOURCE: Hoyert, D. “75 Years of Mortality in the United States,” NCHS Data Brief, March 2012]