Americans die younger [ht: ja] than people in other high-income countries—by more than 2 years!
According to a study by Andrew Fenelon, Li-Hui Chen, Susan P. Baker just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (unfortunately gated), American men and women can only look forward to a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared with the 78.6 and 83.4 years of their peers abroad.
The question is, why? The authors of the study focus on injuries, which are the leading cause of death for Americans between 1 and 44 years of age. Among injuries, those responsible for the greatest number of deaths are drug poisonings, firearm-related injuries, and motor vehicle crashes.
The injury causes of death accounted for 48% (1.02 years) of the life expectancy gap among men. Firearm-related injuries accounted for 21% of the gap, drug poisonings 14%, and MVT crashes 13%. Among women, these causes accounted for 19% (0.42 years) of the gap, with 4% from firearm-related injuries, 9% from drug poisonings, and 6% from MVT crashes. The 3 injury causes accounted for 6% of deaths among US men and 3% among US women.
Perhaps even more important, the authors of the study found systematic variation in injury deaths across countries, with relatively high rates in the United States. Therefore, they conclude,
Although injury prevention represents an important means to improve life expectancy, the existence of predictable international patterns of injury mortality may suggest that these causes of death reflect broad factors that go beyond individual policies.
In other words, there’s something seriously wrong in the United States, which is causing Americans to die young.