New data shows widening mortality gap between urban, rural US residents


While mortality rates have decreased nationwide in the last two decades, the disparity in deaths between rural and urban areas has tripled, according to a study published June 8 in JAMA.  

Researchers analyzed CDC data on all U.S. deaths between 1999 to 2019 and reviewed U.S. Census data to understand trends among large metropolitan areas, small- or medium-sized metropolitan areas and rural areas.

Five study findings:

1. Rural areas had the highest age-adjusted mortality rates during the study period. This figure sat at 834 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019, compared to 664.5 per 100,000 for metro areas the same year. 

2. While mortality rates fell in both large metro areas and rural areas since 1999, the gap between the two areas increased 172 percent.

3. Overall, men had higher mortality rates than women. However, men and women in rural areas still had higher mortality rates than their counterparts living in urban areas in 2019.

4. Black people had the highest mortality rates of all racial/ethnic groups in both rural and urban areas.

5. White people living in rural areas saw the smallest reductions in mortality rates during the study period.  

To view the full study, click here.

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