Objectives: This report presents preliminary data on deaths for the year 2002 in the United States. U.S. data on deaths are shown by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin. Death rates for 2002 are based on population estimates consistent with the April 1, 2000, census. Data on life expectancy, leading causes of death, and infant mortality are also presented.
Methods: Data in this report are based on a large number of deaths comprising approximately 97 percent of the demographic file and 93 percent of the medical file for all deaths in the United States in 2002. The records are weighted to independent control counts of infant deaths and deaths 1 year of age and over received in State vital statistics offices for 2002. Unless otherwise indicated, comparisons are made with final data for 2001. For certain causes of death, preliminary data differ from final data because of the truncated nature of the preliminary file. These are, in particular, unintentional injuries, homicides, suicides, and respiratory diseases. Populations were produced for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics under a collaborative arrangement with the U.S. Census Bureau. The populations reflect the results of the 2000 census. This census allowed people to report more than one race for themselves and their household members and also separated the category for Asian or Pacific Islander persons into two groups (Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander). These changes reflected the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) 1997 revisions to the standards for the classification of Federal data on race and ethnicity. Because only one race is currently reported in death certificate data, the 2000 census populations were "bridged" to the single race categories specified in OMB's 1977 guidelines for race and ethnic statistics in Federal reporting, which are still in use in the collection of vital statistics data.
Results: The age-adjusted death rate in 2002 for the United States decreased from 854.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2001 to 846.8 in 2002. Declines in age-adjusted death rates occurred for Diseases of heart, Malignant neoplasms, Cerebrovascular diseases, Accidents (unintentional injuries), Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and Assault (homicide). The decrease in homicide reflects the effect of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the rates for that year. Age-adjusted death rates also decreased for alcohol-induced deaths between 2001 and 2002. Age-adjusted death rates increased between 2001 and 2002 for the following causes: Alzheimer's disease, Influenza and pneumonia, Essential (primary) hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, Septicemia, and Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis. Life expectancy at birth rose by 0.2 years to a record high of 77.4 years. The infant mortality rate increased between 2001 and 2002, the first numerical increase in the infant mortality rate since 1957-58. However, supplemental analyses of fetal death records indicate that the perinatal mortality rate remained stable between 2001 and 2002.