Life Expectancy Increases in 2018 as Overdose Deaths Decline Along with Several Leading Causes of Death

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2020

Contact: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Communication (301) 458-4800

Life expectancy in the United States increased in 2018 for the first time in four years, as deaths from drug overdoses declined for the first time in 28 years and death rates from 6 of the 10 leading causes of death also fell, according to final 2018 data released in a series of new reports by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Mortality in the United States: 2018” features the first public release of final mortality data for 2018, and the report documents that the age-adjusted death rate for the entire U.S. population decreased by 1.1% from 731.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2017 to 723.6 in 2018. The 10 leading causes of death in 2018 remained the same for the third year in a row. Death rates increased in 2018 for only 2 of the 10 leading causes of death (suicide and influenza/pneumonia).

As a result of this decline in overall mortality, life expectancy at birth for the U.S. population in 2018 increased 0.1 year from 2017 to 78.7 years. Life expectancy had declined in two of the past three years prior to 2018, and the 2018 estimate is still lower than the peak of 78.9 years in 2014. Over half the increase in life expectancy in 2018 was due to declines in mortality from cancer and accidents/unintentional injuries.

Drug overdoses account for over a third of all accidental deaths in the U.S. and a second report, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2018,” reveals that the official number of drug overdose deaths among residents in the United States in 2018 was 67,367, a 4% decline from 2017 (70,237 deaths). Nearly 9 in 10 overdose deaths were accidental/unintentional.

Other findings documented in the overdose report:

Also,  NCHS published the first estimated maternal mortality rate for the U.S. since 2007 due to state-by-state revisions in reporting maternal deaths. In 2018, the national maternal mortality rate was an estimated 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is not significantly different than the last recorded national rate, after factoring in the changes in reporting (Visit this link for details about the new maternal mortality data and related reports).


Mortality in the United States, 2018
Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2018
Changes in Life Expectancy at Birth, 2010–2018