From 1999 to 2019, death rates higher in rural versus urban areas


From 1999 through 2019, the death rates for males and females were higher in rural than urban areas, according to a September data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Sally C. Curtin and Merianne Rose Spencer, M.P.H., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, examined data from the National Vital Statistics System to examine trends in age-adjusted death rates for all causes of death among rural and urban areas by sex.

The researchers observed a decrease in age-adjusted death rates in urban areas from 865.1 to 693.4 per 100,000 from 1999 to 2019, while rates in rural areas declined from 1999 through 2010 and then stabilized through 2019 (923.8 to 837.6 to 834.0). For both males and females, death rates were higher in rural versus urban areas from 1999 through 2019, with the difference in rates increasing during the study period. Rates for the 10 leading causes of death were higher in rural versus urban areas in 2019, with the greatest differences in death rates due to heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD). From 1999 through 2019, there was a widening in the differences between rural and urban death rates for heart disease, cancer, and CLRD.

“During 1999 through 2019, age-adjusted death rates in rural areas were higher than in urban areas for the entire period, and the difference increased over time,” the authors write.