The age-adjusted U.S. death rate has been improving a lot faster in some states than in others over the past 35 years.

The overall average annual U.S. death rate fell 29% over that period, to just 748 deaths per 100,000 people per year during the three-year period from 2013 through 2015, according to the federal government’s new “Health, United States, 2016″ report.

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New York state was the state that had the best success at pushing its death rate down. Its age-adjusted death rate fell 39% between the 1979-1981 data collection period and the 2013-2015 data collection period.

In the three states with the worst results, the death rate fell less than 15%.

Health, United States, 2016

The National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has published the new health report on its website. Because the center is a federal agency, its reports are in the public domain. That means insurance agents, brokers, investment advisors and other financial professionals can use the data in their own social media posts, blog articles, infographics, brochures and proposals without worries about copyright restrictions.

In addition to data on the age-adjusted U.S. death rate, the report includes tables on many other topics of interest to financial professionals and financial services companies, including information about insurance, injuries, illnesses, acute health care services use, and long-term care services use.

How the Report Might Affect Financial Professionals

Many of the tables in the main PDF version of the report include links to a page that provides the underlying data in spreadsheet form. Financial professionals can use the spreadsheet version of the data to perform their own analyses.

The numbers could affect everything from how much life insurers might want to charge for term life insurance in a given state, to how low an insurer might be willing to go when selling an annuity to a resident of a high-mortality state, to how much future life expectancy improvement an advisor might want to include in a client’s retirement income plan.

In a state with a high, slow-to-fall age-adjusted death rate, life insurance premiums might be higher than in other, similar states, and annuity prices might be lower.

Numbers (Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

If a state starts with a high age-adjusted death rate, but its death rate is falling quickly, insurers might be inclined to treat life and annuity purchasers there as if they lived in a state with a lower age-adjusted death rate.

The age-adjusted death rate is also a good measure of the performance of a state’s health care and health finance systems.

Don’t All States Have a 100% Death Rate?

Unless scientists develop radical new life force transfer and storage systems sometime in the next century, every human being alive today will die. The overall death rate for the United States has been, and will be, 100%.

Analysts at the National Center for Health Statistics come up with a state’s age-adjusted death rate by dividing the number of reported deaths in a state by its population, then transforming the results to reflect what the death rate might be if the state had the same distribution as the United States as a whole in a year defined as the standard population year.

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In the new adjusted death-rate table, the health statistics analysts use the year 2000 U.S. population as the standard population.

The analysts then multiply the results by 100,000 to make them easier for ordinary people to understand.

If a state has a low age-adjusted death rate, that means the number of deaths per 100,000 is low, and that the average age of the people who do die is higher than the average age of the people who die in states with high age-adjusted death rates.

In Hawaii, for example, a state with a 2013-2015 age-adjusted death rate of just 589 deaths per 100,000 lives, the average life expectancy at birth is 81.3 years.

In Mississippi, the state with the worst 2013-2015 age-adjusted death rate — 954 deaths per 100,000 lives  — the average life expectancy at birth is just 75.

The Numbers

Instead of just giving the 2013-2015 age-adjusted death rate for each state, we used the adjusted death-rate spreadsheet data to show how each state’s age-adjusted death rate changed, in percentage terms, between the 1979-1981 data collection period and the 2013-2015 data collection period.

We came up with the adjusted death-rate change figures by subtracting the 2013-2015 death-rate figure from the 1979-1981 figure, then dividing by the 1979-1981 figure.

We provide a list showing the 10 states with the worst adjusted death-rate change performance, and a table showing the performance of all 50 states in alphabetical order.

 Iowa flag painted on a barn (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

10. Iowa

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 919.8

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 723.8

Change: -21.3%

9. Indiana

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,048.3

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 829.5

Change: -20.9%

8. Kansas

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 940.1

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 763.8

Change: -18.8%

7. Kentucky

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,088.9

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 910.3

Change: -18.8%

6. Alabama

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,091.2

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 919.5

Change: -15.7%

Oklahoma road sign (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

5. Tennessee

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,045.5

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 882.5

Change: -15.6%

4. West Virginia

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,100.3

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 932.0

Change: -15.3%

3. Mississippi

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,108.7

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 953.6

Change: -14.0%

2. Arkansas

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,017.0

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 893.1

Change: -12.1%

1. Oklahoma

1979-1981 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 1,025.6

2013-2015 Age-Adjusted Death Rate: 904.2

Change: -11.8%

Age-Adjusted Death-Rate Changes for All 50 U.S. States

This table shows age-adjusted death rate for each state for the 1979-1981 data collection period and the 2013-2015 data collection period, along with the change in the death rate, in percent.

If, for example, a state’s age-adjusted death increased to 1,500 deaths per 100,000 lives per year, from 1,000 deaths per 100,000 lives per year, we’d show that as a 50% increase in the state’s age-adjusted death rate. 

State

1979-1981

2013-2015

Change

Alabama 1,091.2 919.5 -15.7%
Alaska 1,087.4 736.2 -32.3%
Arizona 951.5 669.2 -29.7%
Arkansas 1,017.0 893.1 -12.2%
California 975.5 619.1 -36.5%
Colorado 941.1 661.7 -29.7%
Connecticut 961.5 649.6 -32.4%
Delaware 1,069.7 734.2 -31.4%
Florida 960.8 662.7 -31.0%
Georgia 1,094.3 805.4 -26.4%
Hawaii 801.2 589.2 -26.5%
Idaho 936.7 727.4 -22.3%
Illinois 1,063.7 726.1 -31.7%
Indiana 1,048.3 829.5 -20.9%
Iowa 919.9 723.8 -21.3%
Kansas 940.1 763.8 -18.8%
Kentucky 1,088.9 910.3 -16.4%
Louisiana 1,132.6 888.5 -21.6%
Maine 1,002.9 758.9 -24.3%
Maryland 1,063.3 705.1 -33.7%
Massachusetts 982.6 670.5 -31.8%
Michigan 1,050.2 783.5 -25.4%
Minnesota 892.9 650.6 -27.1%
Mississippi 1,108.7 953.6 -14.0%
Missouri 1,033.7 810.6 -21.6%
Montana 1,013.6 751.9 -25.8%
Nebraska 930.6 724.1 -22.2%
Nevada 1,077.4 758.5 -29.6%
New Hampshire 982.3 702.1 -28.5%
New Jersey 1,047.5 669.3 -36.1%
New Mexico 967.1 740.8 -23.4%
New York 1,051.8 643.2 -38.8%
North Carolina 1,050.4 781.2 -25.6%
North Dakota 922.4 699.7 -24.1%
Ohio 1,070.6 816.6 -23.7%
Oklahoma 1,025.6 904.2 -11.8%
Oregon 953.9 715.5 -25.0%
Pennsylvania 1,076.4 760.0 -29.4%
Rhode Island 990.8 710.8 -28.3%
South Carolina 1,104.6 835.6 -24.4%
South Dakota 941.9 701.7 -25.5%
Tennessee 1,045.5 882.5 -15.6%
Texas 1,014.9 747.2 -26.4%
Utah 924.9 710.7 -23.2%
Vermont 990.2 706.7 -28.6%
Virginia 1,054.0 721.3 -31.6%
Washington 947.7 679.9 -28.3%
West Virginia 1,100.3 932.0 -15.3%
Wisconsin 956.4 716.0 -25.1%
Wyoming 1,016.1 740.8 -27.1%
United States 1,022.8 729.9 -28.6%

 Source: Health, United States, 2016, Table 16.


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