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Life Expectancy Rises to 74.7 Years; Women to Outlive Men Seven Years

March 31, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Americans born in 1984 had an average life expectancy at birth of 74.7 years, a gain of nearly three years in a decade, and women were expected to live seven years longer than men, the government reported Monday.

The outlook was best for white females and worst for black males.

People who were 65 in 1984 had an additional life expectancy of 16.8 years on the average, an improvement of more than a year over the previous 10 years, says an annual report on the nation's health statistics.

Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Bowen partly attributed the improved outlook to an almost 30% reduction in heart disease deaths between 1970 and 1984 and a 50% drop in stroke mortality.

"Remarkable progress is being made against these leading causes of death, and much of the credit belongs to individual Americans as they take steps toward preventing disease and prolonging healthy, active lives," Bowen said.

Lung Cancer Deaths

But the report also highlighted some problem areas. Lung cancer deaths, for example, increased almost 20% among white women and 10% among black women from 1980 to 1984. The lung cancer death rate was stable for white men and increased 5% for black men.

Infant mortality rates remain almost twice as high for blacks as for whites, although steady improvement has occurred in both groups.

The final health statistics for 1984 showed that, although the average life expectancy at birth was 74.7 years for men and women of all races, it was 71.2 years for men and 78.2 years for women. For those born in 1974, the average for both sexes was 72 years--68.2 years for men and 75.9 years for women.

The outlook in 1984 was better for whites than blacks. A white male born in 1984 had a life expectancy of 71.8 years, and a black male was expected to live 65.6 years. For females, the statistics were 78.7 for whites and 73.7 for blacks.

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