Life expectancy rises in Massachusetts, breaking with national trend

Marcony Almeida

longevity2

The average life expectancy of Massachusetts residents rose to 80  years and 8 months in 2016, an increase in longevity that runs counter to national trends showing a decline in how long Americans are expected to live.

Since 2006, life expectancy in Massachusetts has remained close to 80 years, reaching 80 years and 11 months at its highest in 2012-2013, according to the Massachusetts Deaths 2016 report released today by the Department of Public Health (DPH).  In 2015, life expectancy for residents was 80 years and 5 months.

“Massachusetts has worked hard to have near universal health care coverage that promotes health and we consistently rank as one of the healthiest states in the nation. This report shows that working together at both the state and municipal level, and with our health care partners, we can improve the health and well-being of all Massachusetts residents,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.  “As people live longer, we must continue taking steps to position the Commonwealth as an age-friendly state, which is why we created the Governor’s Council to Address Aging.  We recognize that we have more to do, especially in bringing an end to the opioid crisis which has had such a deadly impact across the state.”

In 2016, Hispanic women in the Commonwealth had the highest life expectancy, living, on average, to age 89. The life expectancies for white non-Hispanic women and black non-Hispanic women also were higher than the estimate for Massachusetts residents overall at 82 years and 11 months and 83 years and 7 months, respectively.

Overall, there were 832 fewer deaths in Massachusetts in 2016 compared to 2015; the age-adjusted mortality rate dropped from 684.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015 to 668.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.  The death rate declined for white non-Hispanics, Asian non-Hispanics, and Hispanics; for black non-Hispanic residents, the death rate increased.

Cancer was the leading cause of death for Massachusetts residents in 2016, with lung cancer remaining the leading cause of all cancer deaths. The rate of cancer deaths was highest for white non-Hispanic residents (154.3per 100,000) and lowest for Hispanic residents (91.7 per 100,000).

“A major focus for us in public health is closing the gap in health disparities – and this annual report plays a key role in helping us to shape our prevention efforts so they are targeted where they are most needed to reduce those disparities,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH.

Other highlights from the Massachusetts Deaths 2016 report include:

  • On average, every day in 2016 in Massachusetts 156 people died, including 35 from cancer, 33 from heart disease, 14 from respiratory conditions, and 13 from injuries. Of the 13 injury deaths, 7 deaths were due to poisonings, which include opioid overdoses.
  • In 2016, the premature mortality rate (which only includes deaths that occur before age 75) remained higher for black non-Hispanic residents (309.2 deaths per 100,000) than for white non-Hispanic (288.6), Hispanic (251.9), and Asian non-Hispanic (122.1) residents. However, the life expectancy of black non-Hispanic residents who lived to age 75 was higher than that of white non-Hispanic residents, which suggests that black non-Hispanic residents live longer upon reaching age 75.
  • Among Massachusetts residents ages 25-64, the death rate for those who completed high school or less was more than three times higher than the corresponding rate for those who completed education above high school.
  • The rate of suicide deaths for white non-Hispanic residents (10.0 per 100,000) was almost double the corresponding rates for other groups (5.5 per 100,000 for black non-Hispanics, 5.4 per 100,000 for Asian non-Hispanics, and 5.0 per 100,000 for Hispanics).
  • In 2016, the infant mortality rate for black non-Hispanic residents (7.9 per 1,000 live births) was almost three times higher than the corresponding rate for white non-Hispanic residents (2.7 per 1,000 live births).

    While life expectancy overall in Massachusetts improved in 2016, nationally, it went down last year for the second time in three years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said the decline was largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. According to the CDC report, a baby born in the US in 2017 is expected to live about 78 years and 7 months, on average; and 78 years and 8 months if born in 2015 or 2016.

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