Though life expectancy in the United States has been increasing for nearly a century, the outlook is now worse for non-Hispanic whites — especially women, 25- to 44-year-olds, and people living in rural areas, researchers say.

In findings published in the journal Population and Development Review, University of Pennsylvania demographers found, in the past 10 or so years, the mortality trajectory of non-Hispanic whites in the United States has worsened in contrast to progress seen for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black populations. 

“The trends vary by region,” said demographer Irma Elo, a professor of sociology and part of Penn’s Population Studies Center, Science Daily reported. 

“Large central metropolitan areas have done extremely well, particularly compared to the non-metropolitan areas that have done poorly. To varying degrees, that pattern is evident across the country.”

According to Science Daily, Elo and colleagues found women in general and younger adults also did not fare well, possibly reflecting educational disparities and drug overdoses, respectively.

Elo and fellow demographer and Penn colleague Samuel Preston also pointed to increases in mortality from mental and nervous-system disorders and respiratory disease, pointing to a possible lingering result of the smoking epidemic, Science Daily reported.

Two pieces of good news were also discovered, the demographers said: declines in HIV/AIDS mortality in central metropolitan areas in various parts of the country as well as in cardiovascular diseases “pretty much everywhere,” Preston said.

Deaths from screenable cancers like prostate, breast, cervical, and colon cancer are down in all areas, too, Science Daily reported.


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