For the first time in the last 100 years, there is a major decline in the life expectancy of people in America.
Now the average expected age or life expectancy of people in America is 76 years.
Till last two-three years ago it was around 79 years. Since the early 1900s, people in America have had a longer life expectancy due to better medical care and medicines.
But in the last few years it has started declining. We can also think that this may have happened because of the Covid pandemic.
However, some more worrying reasons are also emerging that have major impact on life expectancy in America. Its impact seems to be especially on the youth.
Inequality and its impact on life expectancy in America
Jeremy Ney, a professor at the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, says income is directly related to life expectancy. He researches the topic of inequality in America.
“Issues like income, housing, education and violent crime affect our expected lifespan. If you are living in a backward and violence affected area, you may live up to 65 years and if you are living in a good area, you may live up to 85 years. That means these things can increase or decrease your age by 20 years. “For this reason, in the last 40 years in America, there is a difference of 20 years in the expected life span in different areas.”
Jeremy Ney believes that this difference in life expectancy among regions of America is also due to the great difference in medical services available in these regions.
Research numbers show that the average age of people from poor communities is less. The average age of Black Americans and Hispanics of Latin American origin has been found to be lower than that of White Americans.
Jeremy Ney said,
“Income and race are also related to life expectancy. Unfortunately, black Americans often have lower incomes than white Americans. Especially in the southern part of the country. They live five years less than whites. The expected life expectancy of people in America decreased due to the Covid pandemic, but even without it, the expected life expectancy of black people has remained low.”
Crime and imprisonment
Another reason for the decline in life expectancy in America is crime and imprisonment.
Jeremy Ney says that inequality in society also has a big impact on this. For example, life expectancy is higher in parts of the state of Florida where people eat well and exercise.
But the situation is very bad in Union County of the state. The biggest jail of the state is also there. Many of those who end up in jail die at an early age.
War is one reason for the decline in life expectancy. In the last 20 years, America has been engaged in long-term wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before that, 58 thousand Americans were killed in the 20-year long war in Vietnam, which had a deep impact on American society.
But there is another big reason due to which hundreds of people die in America every year.
Weapons and mass shooting
Every year thousands of people are killed in mass shooting incidents in America. In 2021, 48 thousand people in America died due to shooting. It has increased in the last few years.
Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who played a major role in establishing the Center for Injury Prevention and Control in America, says that the biggest cause of deaths in America between the ages of one year to 17 years are weapons like rifles and revolvers.
One reason for the increase in gun violence is that there has been a huge increase in the sale of these weapons in the last few decades. Now millions of weapons have come into the possession of common people in America.
“Many youth acquire weapons illegally, many of them are troubled by poverty and mental illness and after getting fed up, they target others and sometimes even themselves. People keep weapons at home citing their own safety, but through them they increase the danger to themselves and the society. “The more guns there are, the more crimes will increase.”
Another surprising thing is that people from the black community are more affected by gun violence than people from the white community.
Dr. Mark Rosenberg says, “In Atlanta, I found that the number of black people between the ages of 18 and 24 who die from violence is almost twice that of white people. This raises serious questions on the justice system of this country. I felt very sad to see this and felt that something had to be done about it.”
Apart from weapons, there is another thing which has a deep impact on the expected life of the country.
Drugs and drug overdose and life expectancy in America
America’s Center for Disease Control said in a shocking report that last year more than one lakh eight thousand people died due to drug overdose in the country.
This is 50 percent more than 2020.
Judit Feinberg, a professor at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine, has conducted extensive research on the impact of drug addiction and the spread of AIDS in the United States since the 1980s.
He said, “I saw some cases of heroin injection-related illnesses in Cincinnati in 2005, which surprised me because heroin use was not much discussed in that part of the United States until then. “I believed this was a problem that spread quickly.”
During the 1980s, drug addiction was more prevalent in big cities. But now drug addiction started spreading throughout America.
This addiction was spreading among the workers of small towns also. But these people were consuming not only drugs like heroin but also medicines which doctors had started prescribing for the treatment of constant pain.
Doctors said that the chances of patients becoming addicted or dependent on these opioids are very low.
Later it was found out that this advice of the doctors was completely wrong. Judit Feinberg says that the crisis became more serious because patients started being given prescriptions for these medicines without proper investigation.
He told that there is a small town named Karmik in the southern region of West Virginia, which had a population of 392 and there was a medicine shop where opioids were easily available.
There used to be a long queue of people and vehicles outside this shop. Not only the local people but also the people in the nearby cities came to know that opioids can be easily purchased from this shop.
In a city where only 392 people lived, this shop supplied approximately 1.25 crore opioid pills in four years.
Judit Feinberg says the pandemic spread rapidly and tore apart many communities.
“If we look at the numbers of different states, its impact can be estimated. West Virginia has had the highest number of deaths from these opioids in the last 10 years. Due to this, 90 people die per 1 lakh people here. “There is no doubt that the opioid epidemic has had a profound impact on the life expectancy of Americans.”
In 2022, the number of deaths due to drug overdose in one year will exceed one lakh. That means twice more than the number of people who died in the firing.
Deaths from cancer and heart disease
More than 1 million people died in America in three years due to the Covid pandemic. But there are some other diseases which are having a serious impact on the life expectancy in America.
“Deaths from cancer and heart disease are on the rise and are not being talked about, while the number of deaths from these diseases exceeds that of drug overdoses, suicide and alcoholism,” said Elaine Mara, a professor of health economics at Harvard University.
More than 600000 people die every year in America from cancer and heart disease. This number is gradually increasing. Often the problem of obesity is also linked to decreasing expected lifespan. How much truth is there in this?
Elin Mara said, “Obesity increases problems. But many times, while paying attention to this, attention gets diverted from other problems. I have studied the death rate numbers in different states. It does not seem that in the states where the rate of obesity is high, the death rate has also increased compared to other states. The risk definitely increases due to obesity in heart patients, but it is difficult to say whether it is related to reduction in expected life.”
Professor Jeremy Ney had said that health services are not available to everyone, especially the poor. And this is a major reason for decreasing life expectancy. Elin Mara also has the same opinion.
In America, even people who have medical insurance often have to pay some amount for the treatment themselves under the provision of co-pay.
Elin Mara says that even if people think they are having a heart attack, they are still afraid to go to the emergency hospital. If medicines are expensive then people reduce the intake of medicines which has a fatal effect on them.