September 18, 2018
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From 1990 to 2010, life expectancy in New York increased from 74.7 years to 80.4 years. By 2010, New Yorkers could expect to live 1.6 years longer than the average American. However, in an alarming reversal, life expectancy in the State declined for two years in a row in 2015 and 2016.
This NYSHealth report analyzes the trends in major causes of death within New York State throughout the past 26 years. The recent decrease in life expectancy has been attributed to many causes, including the opioid crisis and the growing obesity epidemic. Additionally, the rate of death for most causes increased within the past few years. Obesity-related causes, including heart disease and stroke, saw significant increases, as did “deaths of despair”—suicide and drug- and alcohol-related deaths. A combination of factors is likely contributing to declining life expectancy in New York. It is possible that previous advances in medicine and public policy have run their course, and that new approaches are needed to return to a positive life expectancy trend in the State.