Journal Article

Excess mortality in the United States in the 21st century

Preston, S. H., Vierboom, Y. C.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118:16, e2024850118 (2021)
Open Access


We use three indexes to identify how age-specific mortality rates in the United States compare to those in a composite of five large European countries since 2000. First, we examine the ratio of age-specific death rates in the United States to those in Europe. These show a sharp deterioration in the US position since 2000. Applying European age-specific death rates in 2017 to the US population, we then show that adverse mortality conditions in the United States resulted in 400,700 excess deaths that year. Finally, we show that these excess deaths entailed a loss of 13.0 My of life. In 2017, excess deaths and years of life lost in the United States represent a larger annual loss of life than that associated with the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020.

Keywords: Europe, USA, avoidable mortality
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.