LIFE EXPECTANCY: Reaches All-Time High in United States
Americans' life expectancy rose to a record 76.7 years in 1998, according to the annual report on death rates released Monday by the CDC and the Center for Health Statistics. The increase -- up from 76.5 years in 1997 -- was the result of declining death rates for cancer, stroke, suicide, liver disease, heart disease and hardening of the arteries. AIDS-related deaths decreased 21% from 1997, prompting officials to remove the disease from the 15 leading causes of death. In contrast to the declines, the death rate from drugs increased 5%, reaching its highest point since 1979.
Gun-Related Deaths Down
The report also noted a 10% reduction in firearm deaths among those under age 20, down from 4,223 in 1997 to 3,792 in 1998. Overall, the 1998 figure represents a 35% decline from the high of 5,833 firearms-related deaths for that age group in 1994. Across all ages, gun-related deaths dropped 5% from 1997 to 1998, declining more sharply among African Americans (22.7%) compared to whites (9.5%). Sherry Murphy, co-author of the report, said, "The data doesn't show exactly why, but we think there are a number of possibilities including heightened awareness, the strong economy and stronger law enforcement." Responding to the report, President Clinton called on Congress to fund his $280 million National Gun Enforcement Initiative and pass his gun safety legislation. "While these figures are encouraging, there is no question that gun violence is still far too prevalent in our nation," Clinton said (Pitt, AP/Contra Costa Times, 7/25).