Rural-urban gap in death rates triple

The gap between the death rates of rural and urban Americans tripled over the past two decades. Life expectancy has dropped among Americans, particularly white people with less education. "Deaths of despair" from substance abuse or suicide could be a big reason.


National News

June 8, 2021 - 9:49 AM

The gap between the death rates of rural and urban U.S. residents tripled over the past two decades as city-dwellers enjoyed robust health improvement and drugs and disease pervaded the countryside.

A study in the journal JAMA published Monday compares mortality rates in 1999 and 2019. It finds that death rates dropped in all groups except middle-aged rural white and Native American people, but fell most in cities.

“What we’re seeing is a ripple effect from the economic downturn in rural areas that’s now being manifested as a public health crisis,” said senior author Haider Warraich, a physician and researcher at the Boston Veterans Administration.

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