Objectives: This report presents final 2008 data on U.S. deaths, death rates, life expectancy, infant mortality, and trends by selected characteristics such as age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, state of residence, and cause of death.
Methods: Information reported on death certificates, which is completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners, is presented in descriptive tabulations. The original records are filed in state registration offices. Statistical information is compiled in a national database through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Causes of death are processed in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision.
Results: In 2008, a total of 2,471,984 deaths were reported in the United States. The age-adjusted death rate was 758.3 deaths per 100,000 standard population, a decrease of 0.2 percent from the 2007 rate and a record low figure. Life expectancy at birth rose 0.2 years, from 77.9 years in 2007 to a record high 78.1 years in 2008. The age-specific death rate increased for age group 85 years and over. Age-specific death rates decreased for age groups: less than 1 year, 5-14, 15-24, 25-34, 35-44, and 65-74 years. The age-specific death rates remained unchanged for age groups: 1-4, 45-54, 55-64, and 75-84 years. The 15 leading causes of death in 2008 remained the same as in 2007, but Chronic lower respiratory diseases and suicide increased in the ranking while stroke and septicemia decreased in the ranking. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in 2008 after more than five decades at number three in the ranking. Chronic lower respiratory diseases is the third leading cause of death for 2008. The infant mortality rate decreased 2.1 percent to a historically low value of 6.61 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008.
Conclusions: The decline of the age-adjusted death rate to a record low value for the United States and the increase in life expectancy to a record high value of 78.1 years are consistent with long-term trends in mortality.