Objectives: This report presents final 2001 data on U.S. deaths and death rates according to demographic and medical characteristics such as age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, marital status, educational attainment, injury at work, State of residence, and cause of death. Trends and patterns in general mortality, life expectancy, and infant and maternal mortality are also described. A previous report presented preliminary mortality data for 2001.
Methods: In 2001 a total of 2,416,425 deaths were reported in the United States. This report presents descriptive tabulations of information reported on the death certificates. Funeral directors, attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners complete death certificates. Original records are filed in the State registration offices. Statistical information is compiled into a national database through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Causes of death are processed in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision (ICD-10).
Results: The age-adjusted death rate for the United States in 2001 was 854.5 deaths per 100,000 standard population, representing a decrease of 1.7 percent from the 2000 rate and a record low historical figure. Life expectancy at birth rose by 0.2 years to a record high of 77.2 years. Considering all deaths, age-specific death rates rose only for those 25-44 years, and declined for a number of age groups including those under 1 year, 5-14 years, 55-64 years, 65-74 years, 75-84 years, and 85 years and over. The 15 leading causes of death in 2001 remained the same as in 2000. Heart disease and cancer continued to be the leading and second leading causes of death, together accounting for over half of all deaths. Homicide became the 13th leading cause in 2001, rising from the 14th leading cause in 2000 as a result of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The infant mortality rate remained at a record low level, declining slightly but insignificantly from 6.9 in 2000 to 6.8 in 2001.
Conclusions: Generally, mortality patterns in 2001 were consistent with long-term trends. Life expectancy in 2001 increased again to a new record level. The age-adjusted death rate declined to a record low historical figure. Although statistically unchanged from 2000, the trend in infant mortality has shown a steady, although slowing, decline. The declining trend in the homicide death rate was reversed primarily as a result of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.