Mortality from leading causes of death in the United States have shown distinct patterns over the years, with shifts in trends depending heavily on which years are being examined. Using a slightly different approach, crude death rates for five selected leading causes of deaths were examined for the past 15 election years, 1960 thru 2016 [provisional data for 2020 are only available for the first quarter (January thru March) of this year]. This short analysis, using mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System and the WONDER database, produced some interesting patterns. Death rates for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, has declined in every election year since 1960 except for three years – 1968, 1980 and 2016. The death rate from cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States, increased for eight straight election years between 1960 and 1992, but has declined in every election year since then. Death rates from stroke have followed a similar pattern as heart disease, declining every in election year since 1960 except for three years – 1968, 1996 and 2016. Death rates from diabetes declined in four straight election years from 1972 to 1984, but have increased in every election year since then except for one (2008). Finally, death rates from accidents/unintentional injuries increased in each election year from 1960 to 1968, then declined for two straight election years (1972 and 1976), and have increased in all but three election years since then (1984, 1992, and 2000). More significantly, the death rate from accidents/unintentional injuries has been increasing rapidly during this recent period, and was higher in 2016 than in any election year since 1972.
Sources: Leading Causes of Death, 1900-1998, and WONDER, 1999-2018