Amid a glut of drug overdoses, gun deaths and suicide, shorter lives and poorer health are becoming the new norm in the US. It’s alarming, says Laudan Aron

Five years ago, a groundbreaking report showed people in the US in worse health and dying younger than those in other rich nations. Today, despite the alarm the report generated, we learned that life expectancy in the country declined for a second year in a row – astonishing by any standard.

The original report, released by the US National Research Council and Institute of Medicine and subtitled Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, documented a large and growing US “health disadvantage”. As my New Scientist commentary at the time explained, widespread evidence showed that compared with people in other wealthy democracies, people in the US under the age of 75 – men and women, rich and poor, of all races and ethnicities – die younger and experience more injuries and illnesses.

Even a cursory look at developments over the past five years

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