US life expectancy flat for third straight year at almost 79

AP logo
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NEW YORK -- Life expectancy in the United States has stalled for three straight years.

New numbers from the government show a child born last year can expect to live 78 years and 9 months. That's the same prediction made for the previous two years.

It's not clear why life expectancy has been flat lately, but experts believe suicides and fatal drug overdoses probably are playing a role.

In most of the years since World War II, life expectancy in the U.S. inched up - thanks largely to medical advances, public health campaigns and better nutrition and education. The last time it was stuck for three years was in the mid-1980s.

Death rates fell significantly for five causes, including heart disease and cancer. And the largest increase was in Alzheimer's disease.

According to the World Bank, the United States ranks below nearly 40 other countries in life expectancy. Japan and Iceland are at the top of that list, at more than 83 years.