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Unprecedented U.S. Mortality Far Exceeds Other Wealthy Nations

In 2021, 1.1 million deaths would have been averted in the United States if the U.S. had mortality rates similar to other wealthy nations, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

Published in the journal PNAS Nexus, the study refers to these excess deaths as “Missing Americans,” because these deaths reflect people who would still be alive if the U.S. mortality rates were equal to its peer countries.

Comparing age-specific death rates in the U.S. and 21 other wealthy nations from 1933 through 2021, the authors find that current death rates in the U.S. are much higher than other wealthy nations, and the number of excess U.S. deaths has never been larger.

“The number of Missing Americans in recent years is unprecedented in modern times,” said study lead and corresponding author Jacob Bor, associate professor of global health and epidemiology at BUSPH.

Nearly 50 percent of all Missing Americans died before age 65 in 2020 and 2021. According to Bor, the level of excess mortality among working age adults is particularly stark.