By Stephen Bezruchka / Havard Health Policy Review

Mortality increases at the national level are very rare phenomena this century. In the 1900s, mortality only increased in countries greatly affected by World War I and II, and in the 1990s in Sub-Saharan nations with high AIDS prevalence as well as after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Beginning this century, mortality is now increasing in the United States. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that life expectancy is declining, and infant mortality is increasing 1. The reported life expectancy decline is for the period 2014 to 2016 and will continue through 2017. This three-year decline is unprecedented in the U.S. All-cause death rates are similarly increasing except for those over age 65 2. For adults, aged 24 to 65, mortality has increased for all race-ethnicity groups 3. This includes all-cause mortality, as well as cause-specific mortality that includes hypertensive, alcoholic liver, and respiratory diseases, drug overdoses, as well as suicides and homicides.

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