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March 01, 2005

US life expectancy up to 77.6 years; gender gap narrows

Declines in death rates from most major causes -- including heart disease and cancer -- have pushed Americans' life expectancy to a record 77.6 years. Women are still living longer than men, but the gap is narrowing.

Women now have a life expectancy of 80.1 years, 5.3 more than men. That's down from 5.4 years in 2002 and continues a steady decline from a peak difference of 7.8 years in 1979, the National Center for Health Statistics said yesterday in its annual mortality report.

Mary A. Salmon, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, said that the rising life expectancy rates have caused ''lots of speculation on how this will affect Social Security."

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Posted by Tom Troceen