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National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
Committee on Population
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Explore findings from the new report: 
"U.S. Health in International Perspectives"


Drawn from the report U.S. Health in International Perspectives: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, this chart allows you to explore how the United States compares to 16 “peer” countries – other high-income democracies -- on specific causes of death such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, violence, and traffic accidents. These causes are grouped into three major categories: noncommunicable diseases (which cause the largest number of deaths), injuries, and communicable diseases, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions. Click on the menu at the right side of the graph to explore each category in detail.  Note that the number values along the bottom of the graph change for each cause of death and that some have very small numbers (and thus account for very few deaths).



Mortality Rates: How the U.S. Compares



NOTE: The data in this chart are from World Health Organization (2011). Global health observatory data repository, Summary estimates of mortality for WHO member states for the year, 2008. Table 3, Age-standardized death rates per 100,000 by cause, sex and Member State, 2008. The age adjusted death rate is a death rate that controls for the effects of differences in population age distributions. It is a weighted average of the age-specific rates, for each of the populations to be compared, in a given year (or period of time). The weights represent the relative age distribution of an arbitrary standard population. This provides, for each population, a single summary rate that reflects the number of deaths that would have been expected if the populations being compared had identical age distributions. When comparing across geographic areas, some method of age adjustment is usually used to control for fact that the distribution of population ages varies in different locations.  Death rates—and thus the relative ranking of countries in relation to others—do vary from year to year.




This report is the work of the Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries which was a joint effort between the Committee on Population in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education at the National Research Council and the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice in the Institute of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.


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