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Demographics & Statistics Longevity

Mortality Rates On The Rise For Generation X and Y

5 years, 5 months ago

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Posted on Dec 22, 2018, 8 p.m.

There is a decline in the US life expectancy, which is not just from the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y are also influencing the decline, with the causes of premature mortality varying by race, gender, and ethnicity according to researchers from Duke University.

Data was examined from the CDC’s Mortality Multiple Cause Files for the years of 1990-2016 studying the cause of death for Americans born from 1946-1992. Gen Xers aged 38-45 and Gen Yers aged 27-37 were identified as the age cohorts with elevated mortality patterns, particularly non-Hispanic whites, adding to the increase among the aging Silver Tsunami Baby Boomer generation.

As published in the International Journal of Epidemiology Gen Xers and Gen Yers were aged 25-43 during the Great Recession and faced with greater difficulty finding jobs which may have contributed to greater health impacts.

Death rates in 5 different age cohorts were examined, comparing men and women, as well as whites, blacks, and Hispanics; 9 leading causes of death for each cohort were examined, finding underlying causes for increased mortality varied for different ethnic groups, between genders in the cohorts, and in ethnicities.

5 causes of death drove the rising mortality rates for the aging Baby Boomers: Drug overdoses; external causes such as accidents and homicides; COPD; suicides; and HIV/AIDS across all race, ethnic, and gender groups.

For Gen Xers (born 1973-1980) and Gen Yers (born 1981-1991) age cohorts leading causes of death vary by ethnicity:

  • Hispanics: suicides and overdoses were the leading cause of death
  • Non-Hispanic Whites: overdoses and alcohol related diseases for both genders is increasing
  • Non-Hispanic black women: diabetes related mortality is increasing
  • Non-Hispanic black men: cancer; alcohol related disease; and external causes such as accidents were the leading causes.

The time frame studied spans the opioid crisis and the Great Recession, some of the disparities may reflect different access to opioid prescriptions among ethnic groups notes Emma Zang.

Materials provided by Duke University.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Emma Zang, Hui Zheng, Yang Claire Yang, Kenneth C. Land. Recent Trends in U.S. Mortality in Early and Middle Adulthood: Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Inter-Cohort Patterns. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2018 DOI:

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