A recent study, reported in the New York Times, found that Americans under 50 die in car accidents, from gun violence, and from drug addiction more frequently than the citizens of other developed countries.
According to the article, it is old news that Americans suffer poorer health than similarly wealthy nations. This has been an unfortunate trend for the U.S. since the 1980s. However, most of the studies that found this fact centered on older Americans, when more die.
This new study, which was commissioned by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, looked at people under the age of 50 in countries including the U.S., Canada, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia. The study was the first of its kind to compare death rates for youths as well as record the entire range of causes of death. Among its findings was that “[d]eaths before age 50 accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and their counterparts in 16 other developed countries…” For females, the difference was one-third.
In addition, Americans were the least likely of all the nationalities studied to survive to 50 years of age.
Car accidents were one of the major causes of the untimely deaths of young Americans. The report looked to explain the large disparity between the U.S. and other countries and noted that culture may play a role: “Americans are less likely to wear seat belts and more likely to ride motorcycles without helmets.” Both of these are critical in preventing serious injuries or fatalities in the case of accidents, which may explain the higher incidence of car accident-related deaths.