U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High

Despite the war in Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, the hole in the ozone layer, too much television, and all manner of other evils, Americans are living longer than ever.

Print Story: U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High (AP)

U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high — 77.6 years — and deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke continue to drop, the government reported Thursday. Still, the march of medical progress has taken a worrisome turn: Half of Americans in the 55-to-64 age group — including the oldest of the baby boomers — have high blood pressure, and two in five are obese. That means they are in worse shape in some respects than Americans born a decade earlier were when they were that age.

Gotta love the press: People are living longer. And it’s bad news!

The health of this large group of the near-elderly is of major concern to American taxpayers, because they are now becoming eligible for Medicare and Social Security. “What happens to this group is very important because it’s going to affect every other group,” said Amy Bernstein of the National Center for Health Statistics, which put out the new report.

Shorter AP: If those old buzzards would stop living so long, we could save money.

The report presents the latest data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of other health agencies and organizations. Among the new data: Deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the nation’s three leading killers, all dropped in 2003. They were down between 2 percent and 5 percent.

Also, Americans’ life expectancy increased again in 2003. By comparison, it was 75.4 in 1990. Life expectancy in the U.S. has been rising almost without interruption since 1900, thanks to several factors, including extraordinary advances in medicine and sanitation, and declines in some types of unhealthy behavior, such as smoking. Those trends may allow life expectancy to continue to inch up despite the increases in obesity and high blood pressure, said Bernstein, the study’s director.

Perhaps all those old people should eat more salty, fatty foods so they can hurry up and die? Or perhaps take up smoking?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    Hey James:

    On behalf of the “Old Buzzards”, you need to keep us around for as long as possible. Reason being, is that without us, you whipper snapper kids would get us in a lot more trouble than we are already in, and somebody has to keep the kids “in Line”

  2. ICallMasICM says:

    Can we impose a maximum voting age then? 75?