Americans are living longer, but in poorer health


The life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. has increased over the last 40 years, but so has the proportion of Americans living in poor health or with a disability, according to new research led by the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

The USC research team examined lifespan trends in the U.S. from 1970 to 2010. Highlighted below are three findings from the study.

1. The average lifespan for men increased by 9.2 years during the four decades to 76.2 years and the average lifespan for women increased by 6.4 years to 81 years.

2. The average number of years men live with a disability increased by 4.7 years while the number of years spent disability-free increased by 4.5 years.

3. The average number of years women spend with a disability increased by 3.6 years, exceeding the increase in women's disability-free life (2.7 years).

"Clearly, there is a need to maintain health and reduce disability at younger ages to have meaningful compression of morbidity across the age range," said lead author, Eileen Crimmins, PhD. "The trends for the last 40 years do not support projections and policies that are based on assumptions of a reduced length of disabled life."

The findings of the study may inform policymaking, including proposals to raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare eligibility.



More articles on population health:
Where poor Americans live impacts their life expectancy: 7 findings
3 takeaways from CMS' blog on National Minority Health Month
5 things to know about America's unhealthy behaviors

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