STUMP » Articles » 2022 Top Causes of Death in the U.S. by Sex and Age Group » 15 July 2023, 18:11

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2022 Top Causes of Death in the U.S. by Sex and Age Group  


15 July 2023, 18:11

As a follow-up to the ranking tables I posted a few days ago, let’s look at how these tables look when split by sex.

The rates are definitely very different, but the rank orders also differ.

But first…

Old Insurance Books!

Glenn Cooke, aka The Term Guy, has been scanning in some of his collection of old insurance-related books.

Note: I bought some old insurance books from Glenn via eBay years ago… so I have a collection that differs from what he’s scanned in thus far. There’s one book in particular I want to scan and republish in an annotated/extended version…. when I get to it. I’ll put it on my very long list of projects to do.

Glenn has his old books here: The Term Guy – Antique and Historical Insurance & Actuarial Books

Here is an example: Mortality Statistics of Insured Wage-Earners and Their Families

Excerpts from the Table of Contents:

I elided over some other items, but I’m going to note that I believe that tuberculosis was listed first as a cause of death as it was a very prominent cause at the time.

The particular cause of death experience study we’re looking at here is similar to a group life insurance study currently.

This is the period immediately preceding both the entry of the U.S. into World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic, so this will be interesting to look at the numbers.

For my fellow historical mortality nerds, there are several books Glenn has scanned thus far, from a variety of nations. Glenn is situated in Canada himself, specializing in Canadian term life insurance, but the books come from Scotland, the U.S., England, … even the University of Copenhagen!

There are not just the nerdy actuarial tables, but also books intended for insurance salesmen…. (and I do mean men.) The book I have I want to republish is for saleswomen in 19th century America, and more on that at a different time.

But that’s a good time to move into the ranking tables by sex.

Ranking Tables for Cause of Death by Sex and Age, 2022, U.S. — Male

Let’s start with the males.

First the count:

Second, the rate:

What may help is a comparison with the rate table from 2019:

There are some slight differences in death rates that made some causes switch places in ranking between 2019 and 2022 (even ignoring COVID).

However, there is one large change that is hard to ignore: the increase in death rates due to “accidents” for younger adults.

A lot of that was drug overdoses.

I will be getting into the sex differences of that, as well as other causes — the heart disease & cancer trends for men differ a lot from that of women as you will see below.

Ranking Tables for Cause of Death by Sex and Age, 2022, U.S. — Female

This is the part where I will be making a comparison between the sexes.

First, the ranking table by count:

Rate table:

And 2019 for comparison:

This post is mostly focused on sex differences, so it’s more on the ratios between death rates.

That is the row above the rate tables, and the biggest disparity is in the age 15-24.

In 2019, the ratio between the male and female death rates for the ages 15-24 was 2.59. That means the death rate for males was over 150% that of females for that age band.

In 2022, the ratio was 2.56, so the gap was about the same — note that the mortality in 2022 is higher for both females and males, but the mortality ratio persisted.

If we look at the age group just higher (age 25-34 years old), the mortality gap widened for those, but I have a reason to look at the age 15-24 years old in particular: this is where the “fatal stupidity period” for males is centered.

Fatal Stupidity Period

I have long called this the fatal stupidity period. Here is a post I made on Livejournal (of all places) back in 2013:

So people were all up in my grill about my characterization of the “stupid period” and yadda yadda. I happen to have noticed this phenomenon a while back, and it’s not unique to the U.S. So I decided to demonstrate it.

So the first graph you’re going to see here are ratios of death rates (by age) of males to females for some selected countries, for observation periods 2000-2009. I picked a decadal smoothing as the mortality rates generally don’t move that fast, and one year’s worth of death stats are all over the place for ages where probability is low for dying in the first place (look at that SSA table again – the peak is at less than 0.15% probability of death in one year – that’s pretty low).

The fatal stupidity period is centered around the age of about 20. And about Russia… well. That’s the really bad line, in case it’s not clear.

Mind you, mortality increases with age for males in adulthood, just as with females. The point rate of increase, for males – is fairly fast at a young age.

That was 2000-2009, and it’s several years later. But the shape of mortality in terms of sex gaps hasn’t changed much. The difference at the young age is usually due to external causes of death: homicide, suicide, and accidents.

Accidental causes of death encompass all sorts of types of deaths: motor vehicle accidents, drowning, drug overdoses, and the results of doing all sorts of risky (and sometimes stupid) things that young men often get up to… more often than young women do.

That’s one of the biggest reasons for the difference at that age.

But I do want to point out: at every age, the male death rate is higher in the U.S., and this has been true for a very long time. But even without getting into the historical aspects of the issue, for many physiological causes of death males have much higher death rates than females. Not just the external causes of death.

In any case, we’ll see some of this as I do deeper dives into particular causes of death.

Related post

Video: U.S. Mortality Trends 2020-2022 part 3: Major Categories of Death – includes ranking tables for prior years by sex


Available at substack post

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