Not to be morbid, but what are you likely to die from?

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data has created a fascinating interactive chart that shows the answer, according to statistics. Drawing on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Underlying Cause of Death database, Yau charted the cause of death for Americans by age.

Here's what the chart looks like for women overall::

Flowing Data

Note that this chart shows percentages by age group, not absolute numbers. There are far more people dying in 70s and 80s than there are in their 20s, but this kind of chart gives them all equal space, to show you how deaths break down by percentages.

And here is the chart for men overall:

Flowing Data

You can see that death by disease is far more common for children and for older people. Roughly a third of people die from diseases of the respiratory system, including the flu. Cancer is mainly an issue for older people, and infectious diseases are much more rare.

External causes — drugs, guns, homicides — are a much bigger cause of death for those in their teens and 20's. But Yau's data also shows that men are twice as likely to die from external causes as women. Women are shown in the first chart below, men in the second:

There are also variations in the data by race, with African Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders more likely than whites, American Indians or Alaskan natives to die younger from disease.

Here is the chart for African Americans:

Flowing Data


Flowing Data

American Indians and Alaskan natives:

Flowing Data

And Asians and Pacific Islanders. The lines here appear more jagged here because of the smaller population size -- a smaller sample means higher variance, says Yau.

Flowing Data

Visit Yau's site to see the interactive version of the graph, which lets you click on different demographic categories and causes of death to see more information.

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