PDF _ RL32792 - Life Expectancy in the United States
3-Mar-2005; Laura B. Shrestha; 32 p.

Update: June 3, 2005 Previous releases:


Abstract: As a result of falling age-specific mortality, life expectancy rose dramatically in the United States over the past century. Preliminary data for 2003 show that life expectancy at birth for the total population has reached an all-time American high level, 77.6 years, up from 49.2 years at the turn of the 20th century. Record-high life expectancies were found for white males (75.4 years) and black males (69.2 years), as well as for white females (80.5 years) and black females (76.1 years). Life expectancy gaps between males and females and between whites and blacks persisted.

In combination with decreasing fertility, the life expectancy gains have led to a rapid aging of the American population, as reflected by an increasing proportion of persons aged 65 and older. This report documents the improvements in longevity that have occurred, analyzing both the underlying factors that contributed to mortality reductions as well as the continuing longevity differentials by sex and race. In addition, it considers whether life expectancy will continue to increase in future years. Detailed statistics on life expectancy are provided.

While this report focuses on describing the demographic context of life expectancy change in the United States, these trends have implications for a wide range of social and economic program and issues that are likely to be considered by the 109th Congress.

This report will be updated annually. [read report]

Topics: Population

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