How Cause of Death Shifted with Age and Time in America
As we get older, our life expectancy declines. But when and how quickly the decline happens and how it happens has changed over the years.
Mortality Rate in 2021, by Age
Here’s what mortality looked like in 2021 for people aged 84 and younger, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Darker shades mean higher mortality rate.
How has this changed over the years? The CDC data goes back to 1968, so we can compare.
However, there have been changes to how causes of death are classified and grouped. The above uses one-year groups for age, but this a more recent thing. In previous years, the data only comes in ten- and five-year groupings. The chart below reflects the data collection changes, but we can still see a clear pattern.
Living Longer, Mostly
Overall mortality decreased over the past decades but seems to have reversed course over the last few years.
The trends are different depending on the cause of death. The charts below show the same time-age grid for different causes. You can see improving cancer treatments, fewer congenital anomalies, and complications from pregnancies at older ages.
Shifting Causes of Death
Together, a history of mortality in the United States.
This was motivated by Saloni Dattani’s charts on mortality rates for France from 1925 to 1999. The CDC updates how they count deaths every couple of decades, which made the charts above a little tricky, but the resulting patterns seem to make sense.
Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.See What You Get
My work on FlowingData is supported by paid memberships. Since 2007, I have been analyzing data and making charts to help people understand and appreciate data in their work and everyday lives. I hope to keep it going for many more years.
If you liked this (or want to learn how to make similar data things), please consider supporting this small corner of the internet with a membership. You get unlimited access to visualization courses, tutorials, and extra resources. Thanks. — Nathan