LIFE EXPECTANCY FOR WOMEN IS SHRINKING
A new study offers more evidence that life expectancy for some U.S. women is actually falling; a disturbing and unexplainable trend that may be a problem for disadvantaged white women.
The Pioneer Press reports on the Journal Health Affairs latest research that found women age 75 and younger, are dying at higher rates than previous years in nearly half of the nation’s counties — many of them rural and in the South and West.
Historically speaking, women have outlived men and the latest numbers show the average life span for a baby girl born today is 81, and for a baby boy, it’s 76. However, the gap has been narrowing, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown women’s longevity is not growing at the same pace as men’s.
The phenomenon of some women losing ground appears to have begun in the late 80’s, though studies have begun to spotlight it only in the past few years.
Trying to figure out why is “the hot topic right now…” said Jennifer Karas Montez, a Harvard School of Public Health sociologist who has studied the life expectancy decline but had no role in the new study. Researchers considered federal death data and other information for nearly all 3,141 U.S. counties over 10. Some of the factors that might have an effect on early deaths include:
- Higher smoking rates
- Less education
- Or migration of healthier women out of rural, southern and western states
Several experts still can’t explain the concerning trend. Curiously, for men, life expectancy has held steady or improved in nearly all counties.