Uptick in white death rates

Improved medical care and public health are lowering death rates in modern societies. Since 1990, rates for African Americans and Hispanics have continued to decline. But beginning around 2000, white death rates began to climb for many age groups.

The chart below shows the overall death rates (calculated as a number of deaths per 100,000 people in each group). The second view shows the change in death rates since 1990, which more dramatically reveals the uptick for whites.

Death rate per 100,000

Death rate change since 1990

Death rates for white women up the most

The increases in death rates are more pronounced for white women in every age group from 25 through 59. Black death rates started higher and continue to decrease, but white mortality rates have been increasing since the late-1990s or mid-2000s.

Death rate change since 1990

Death rate change since 1990

Largest cities diverge from small cities and rural areas

The difference in death rates is most striking between people in the largest metropolitan areas of more than 1 million people and people living in smaller cities or rural areas.

When comparing the largest urban areas with everywhere else, the death rates show white men and women in the biggest urban areas dying less frequently while the more rural group has increasingly higher death rates.

Death rate change since 1990

Death rate change since 1990

Rising causes of death

For younger age groups, drug overdose and suicide account for virtually all of the increases in death rate. For older groups, additional causes of death are also increasing, particularly heart and lung diseases for rural women, and cirrhosis for people over 45.

This chart shows causes of death that increased by at least one full death per 100,000 people in a given age group since the turn of the century.

Change in number of deaths per 100,000 population since turn of the century