What’s to blame for the lagging U.S life expectancy? A closer look at mid-life ‘deaths of despair’ and retirement-age chronic disease

Head shot of Leah Abrams

Recent Sloan Fellow on Aging and Work Leah Abrams, PhD, is lead author on A Brief Report published in PNAS Demography that explores what could be driving the troubling status of U.S. life expectancy which has been stagnating since 2010. Abrams and her colleagues find chronic disease at the time of retirement to be a bigger factor than the ‘deaths of despair’ (drug overdose, alcohol abuse, and suicide) that have…

How can we evaluate how well a country is handling the demographic shift to becoming an aging society?

A team of researchers, including collaborator and Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, PhD, has developed a multidimensional index that measures how well a country is handling the transition to having an increasingly larger proportion of older adults by evaluating status across five domains. The results, published in PNAS, indicate that while the U.S. scored well in the areas of productivity and engagement, the country ranked near the bottom in equity.