Stagnating Life Expectancies and Future Prospects in an Age of Uncertainty


  • This research was supported by Grant 0243249 from the National Science Foundation. We thank the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded University of Colorado Population Center (Grant R21 HD51146) for administrative and computing support, and Andrei Rogers for insightful comments on an earlier draft.

Direct correspondence to Justin T. Denney, Department of Sociology, MS-28, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005-1892 〈〉.



This article provides a timely assessment of U.S. life expectancy given recent stalls in the growth of length of life, the continuing drop in international rankings of life expectancy for the United States, and a period of growing social and economic insecurity.


Time-series analysis is used on over 70 years of data from the Human Mortality Database to forecast future life expectancy to the year 2055.


The results show limited improvements in U.S. life expectancy at birth, less than three years on average, for both men and women.


Even in uncertain times, it is important to look forward in preparing for the needs of future populations. The results presented here underscore the relevance of policy and health initiatives aimed at improving the nation's health and reveal important insight into possible limits to mortality improvement over the next five decades.