Final Mortality Data for 1996 Sets New Records–Highest Life Expectancy and Lowest Infant Mortality Rate

For Release: Tuesday, November 10, 1998

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800

Report of Final Mortality Statistics, 1996. Vol. 47, No. 9. 100. pp. (PHS) 99-1120 [PDF – 1.1 MB]

In 1996 the nation reached a record high life expectancy at birth of 76.1 years. The final infant mortality rate for 1996 was an all-time low of 7.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Other records set with the release of the statistics for 1996 was the lowest-ever age-adjusted death rate of 491.6 per 100,000 population. The age-adjusted rate, which eliminates the effects of the aging of the population, is usually considered the best indicator of changes in the death rate over time.

Driving the overall downturn in mortality rates, are the continued drop in death rates for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and stroke, ranked third in the nation. The largest decline however was in the age-adjusted death rate for HIV Infection which dropped sharply by almost 29 percent from 1995 to 1996, the first time a drop in this cause of death has been reported. Homicide also declined substantially, down almost 10 percent, for the largest decline in over a decade.

“Deaths: Final Data for 1996,” from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents the latest final data on U.S. deaths and death rates according to a number of key demographic and medical characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, education, state of residence and cause of death. Data are based on death certificates completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, medical examiners and coroners, filed in state vital statistics offices, and then reported to NCHS through the Vital Statistics Cooperative System. Other highlights in the 100-page report which presents both national findings and data by state are:

  • Age-adjusted death rates were also down for other leading causes of death including suicide, cancer, and atherosclerosis. Rates were up for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.
  • Mortality levels varied by race. Overall, age-adjusted death rates were 58 percent higher for the black population compared with the white population. Despite significant declines in infant mortality for both black and white infants, the rate for black infants is still more than twice that for whites.
  • Age-adjusted death rates by marital status show that in 1996 those who had never married had the highest mortality, followed by those who were widowed or divorced. Those who were married at the time of death had the lowest mortality.
  • Higher educational attainment is associated with markedly lower risk of death. Those with less than 12 years of education had the highest rate.