Latest Final Mortality Statistics Available

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Deaths: Final Data for 1997. Vol. 47, No. 19. 108. pp. (PHS) 99-1120 [PDF – 1 MB]

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released the annual report on final mortality statistics in the United States, based on 100 percent of records reported to state vital statistics offices. This report updates preliminary data for 1997 which were released last October. The new report, “Deaths: Final Data for 1997,” presents comprehensive current and trend data on mortality including the following topics:

  • Life Expectancy – Life expectancy at birth increased to 76.5 years in 1997–an all-time high– primarily due to decreases in mortality from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, stroke and homicide. White females continue to have the highest life expectancy at birth (79.9 years), followed by black females (74.7 years), white males (74.3 years), and black males (67.2 years)–a record high for each group. Overall the largest gain in life expectancy between 1980 and 1997 was for white males (3.6 years), followed by black males (3.4 years), to narrow the gap between men and women to 5.8 years.
  • Infant Mortality – The infant mortality rate reached a record low of 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1997. In 1997, the infant mortality rate for black infants was more than twice that for white infants.
  • Leading Causes of Death – There were important changes in the rankings for leading causes of death in the U.S. for 1997. Heart disease and cancer–the top two causes of death–accounted for over 54 percent of all deaths in 1997, even though age-adjusted death rates dropped by 3 percent for heart disease and nearly 2 percent for cancer. HIV/AIDS fell from 8th to 14th among leading causes of death, though it remained the leading cause of death for black persons aged 25-44. This reflects a 48-percent decline for HIV/AIDS between 1996 and 1997. Homicide, despite a 6-percent drop from 1996 to 1997, moved from 14th to 13th. Nephritis, or kidney disease, moved up from 11th to 9th in the rankings, while Alzheimer’s Disease moved up from 13th to 11th, despite no change in the death rate. Suicide rates declined 2 percent from 1996 to 1997, but moved from 9th to 8th among leading killers in the U.S. The report also features a detailed breakdown of the 10 leading causes of death by age and sex for both race and Hispanic origin. The report also includes the number of deaths and death rates for major causes of death by state.
  • Injury Mortality – There were 146,400 injury-related deaths in 1997, of which 32,436 were firearm-related. The annual report regularly tracks firearm deaths and shows a drop of 5.4 percent in the age-adjusted death rate from 1996 to 1997. A new table on injury mortality classifying injuries by mechanism shows the four most frequent types of injury deaths in addition to firearm were motor vehicle traffic (42,473), poisoning (17,692) and falls (12,555).
  • Work-related Deaths – A total of 5,666 injury deaths occurred at work; the age-adjusted death rate for occupational injuries declined by 4 percent between 1996 and 1997. The age-adjusted occupational injury death rate was 10 times higher for men than for women.
  • Marital Status – Age-adjusted death rates by marital status show that in 1997 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.

The information on causes of death in this report is recorded on death certificates by physicians, medical examiners, and coroners; the death certificates are filed in state vital statistics offices.