For the second straight year, U.S. life expectancy has fallen, according to a CDC report on 2016 data released in December 2017. An American born today can expect to live to 78.6 years, a decrease of about a month when compared to 2015. "It may not sound like much, but the alarming story is not the amount of the decrease but that the increase has ended," according to Steven Woolf at Virginia Commonwealth University. "In 1960, the U.S. had the highest life expectancy in the world. It's lost ground to other industrialized nations ever since" (USA TODAY, Feb. 8, 2018).
In 2015, the average American’s life expectancy was cut short by a little more than a month. For the first time in two decades, U.S. life expectancy for someone born in 2015 fell from 78.9 years to 78.8 years (National Center for Health Statistics, December 8, 2016). Of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S., eight showed an increase.
“This is a big deal,” says Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In an NPR interview, Morgan said, “There’s not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy. The fact that it’s leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding.”