Female Mortality Rates Are One Of The Strangest And Most Disturbing Trends In The United States

Surprisingly, for a country that produces a huge fraction of the world’s advanced medical research, the United States lags pretty far behind in the health of its citizens. We pay more, and get worse results.

In Wonkblog’s series of influential people’s most important graphs, University of Chicago economics professor Emily Oster (author of a recent and excellent book on pregnancy, “Expecting Better”) picked a chart showing how the U.S. has fallen behind other countries with similar income levels for women’s life expectancy.

Oster highlighted a follow-up post from Laudan Aron who points out an even more disturbing trend from a recent (pay-walled) report in Health Affairs.

Between 1992-’96 and 2002-’06 female mortality rates increased in 42.7% of counties in America even as it rose overall in most parts of the country And it wasn’t just among the disadvantaged. According to Aron, preliminary analysis shows that the trend was particularly pronounced for white women of reproductive age.

We’re not entirely sure why this happened, though higher smoking rates and lower education rates are a factor, and it’s a disturbing trend because earlier deaths in that demographic can disproportionately impact women and children.

Here’s the map:

Change in female mortality rates from 1992 — 96 to 2002 — 06 in US counties

The full report can be found here.

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