Homicides In Mexico Reversed Life Expectancy Gains For Men And Slowed Them For Women

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Mexico’s staggering homicide rate has taken a toll on the mortality rate for men — and it could be even worse than the statistics indicate, a new study from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health suggests.

Improvements in living standards and in the availability of health care helped boost life expectancy throughout Latin America during the second half of the 20th century. But that trend slowed in the early 2000s and began reversing after 2005 due to the rising homicide rate in Central America and Mexico. In Mexico, that rate more than doubled from 9.5 per 100,000 deaths in 2005 to 22 per 100,000 by 2010.

As a result, average life expectancy among Mexican men ages 15 through 50 fell from 33.8 years to 33.5 years between 2005 through 2010. Increases in life expectancy among Mexican women slowed during the same period for the same reason: The average life expectancy held steady at 34.5 years in both 2005 and 2010). Increases in deaths due to diabetes also played a part, albeit a smaller one.

“Our results indicate that homicides can have a large impact on the average years of life of a population,” said Dr. Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, a lead investigator on the study and Assistant Professor in the Department of Community health Sciecnes at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Violence in Mexico has spread throughout the entire country, so our findings suggest that homicides need to be addressed from a public health perspective to improve peoples’ lives.”

The study is published in the January issue of the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs.