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Mortality in the United States (Fast Facts).

United States Mortality Rates

  • U.S. Population: 328,239,523
  • Population Density (per square mile):  93.29
  • Median Age:  38.1
  • Deaths Per Year:  2,854,838
  • Annual Deaths Per 100,000 Pop.:  869.7
  • Life Expectancy at Birth:  77.8 (Female: 80.5; Male: 75.1)
  • Fertility Rate (births per 1,000 women age 15-44): 59.0

Leading Causes of Death in the U.S.

Cause of Death Deaths Per Year Deaths Per 100,000 (age-adjusted)
Heart Disease


659,041 161.5


599,601 146.2
Accidents (including vehicle accidents)


173,040 49.3
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (e.g., emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma)


156,979 38.2


150,005 37.0
Alzheimer’s Disease


121,499 29.8


87,647 21.6
Drug Overdose 70,630




Kidney Disease


51,565 12.7
Pneumonia + Flu (nephritis, nephrosis, nephrotic syndrome)


49,783 12.3


47,511 13.9


19,141 5.8



U.S. average life expectancy at birth decreased by approximately one year from 2019 to the first half of 2020. The decrease is attributed to the effects of COVID-19 and a continuing increase in overdose deaths.

Top 10

The top ten causes of death represent nearly 3 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. annually.

Though rates have generally declined, heart disease has remained the number one cause of death in the U.S. since at least 1980. Around 4.6% of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with some form of heart disease, making it one of the biggest concerns for most life insurance companies.


Accidents—or “unintentional injuries”— are the nation’s third leading cause of death. Unintentional poisonings, falls, and vehicle accidents are the three most common fatal accidents.  And this is one reason why many people will often purchase an accidental death policy to supplement a traditional life insurance policy.

Drug Overdose

The national age-adjusted drug-overdose rate per 100,000 increased over threefold during the past 20 years, from around 6.0 in 1999 to 21.6 in 2019. Overdose rates among males are about double the rates for females.

As a result, the life insurance industry as seen a rise in applicants with previous drug and alcohol addictions (Life Insurance with a history of drug abuse).

Issues like these and other pre-existing medical conditions have also led to a rise in the number or guaranteed issue life insurance products being created.


U.S. Dept of Ag., Economic Research Service, https://data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx?ID=17827 (citing U.S. Census Bureau, 2019).

Statista, Population Density in the U.S. by Federal States Including District of Columbia in 2020 (2020).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Deaths and Mortality (2019).

Arias, Ph.D., Elizabeth, Betzaida Tejada-Vera, M.S., and Farida Ahmad, M.P.H., Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for January through June, 2020.  Natl. Cent. for Health Statistics (Feb., 2020).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Leading Causes of Death (2019).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Stats of the States (2019).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2019 (2020).

Wamsley, Laurel, American Life Expectancy Dropped by a Full Year in 1st Half of 2020. NPR (Feb. 18, 2021).

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