Dying younger: US life expectancy trending downward - study

© Shannon Stapleton
Life expectancy for Americans aged 25 to 85 is getting shorter, according to a new study. For 65-year-old males and females, expected lifespan has fallen by six months compared to projections in 2015, the study found.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) released its latest annual mortality improvement scale for pension plans earlier this month. The scale is crafted using Social Security Administration data from 2012 to 2014 on mortality of Americans of all ages, and is used by pension plans to "help accurately measure pension obligations,"said Dale Hall, SOA's managing director of research.

"The updated improvement scale suggests US mortality continues to improve, but at a slower average rate of improvement than previous years, which may decrease pension plan obligations slightly," SOA said, adding that the "updated improvement scale indicates a slight decline in life expectancy as a result of the slower average rate of mortality improvement."

For example, in 2015, the average 65-year-old American male was expected to live to 86.2, while the average female of the same age was expected to live to 88.2. New projections by the SOA posit that life expectancy for 65-year-old males is more like 85.8, and 87.8 for females of the same age.

SOA's calculations are made with an assumption that Americans' longevity will continue to improve. And while the average millennial that reaches age 65 is expected to live a few more years than the average baby boomer, life expectancy is getting shorter for younger Americans as well, the study found. 

Life expectancy for female Americans ages 25 to 55 went down by 0.6 years – same as males ages 45 to 65 – while males in the 25-55 age bracket were down by 0.7 years. Americans ages 75 and 85 also saw decreases in life expectancy projections, but less so than younger age groups.

In June, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2015 marked the first time in ten years that the American death rate had increased. Unlike trends for other age, racial, and ethnic groups in America, the death rate for middle-aged white Americans is rising, according to a Princeton study released in November 2015. Furthermore, the suicide rate in the US spiked by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the federal government.

One in three Americans is obese, the CDC said in September 2015. The agency also found that one in three children and teens in America eat fast food daily. Meanwhile, the maternal mortality rate in the US is on par with nations such as Palestine and Libya, according to a study released earlier this month.