Life Expectancy Of Mexican Males Drops Due To Drug Violence

By John Lavitt 02/04/16

The Mexican drug war is taking a mortal toll on its nation's men.

Life Expectancy Of Mexican Males Drops Due To Drug Violence
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Drug violence has changed the course of the average life expectancy for Mexican males. Increasing for decades, the trend of increased life expectancy for men in Mexico has been reversed. The extreme drug violence that gripped the country between 2005 and 2010 (the years examined in the study) seems to be the direct cause. Despite the arrest of El Chapo, the Mexican drug kingpin, drug violence in Mexico continues to be extreme, and it will not be surprising if this disturbing tend continues in the future. 

According to the report by the American journal Health Affairs, in the Mexican states most heavily affected by drug violence, such as Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Durango, the reversal was notably extreme. In those jurisdictions, men lost an average of one year of life expectancy between 2005 and 2010. Women also have been affected with the previous rise in life expectancy greatly slowing down over the course of the same period. 

Given improvements made in Mexican health care programs, by 2010, two-thirds of states in Mexico had lower life expectancies in comparison to what the statistics were 10 years prior. Men in Mexico usually lived an average of 71 years in 2010, and by 2014, those statistics had only increased to about 72 years. Despite the health improvements the stall in the increase in life expectancy on a national level has been directly linked to the drug violence.

The authors of the study - José Manuel Aburto, of the European Doctoral School of Demography, and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, of the University of California in Los Angeles – explained how, "The unprecedented rise in homicides after 2005 led to a reversal in life expectancy increases among males and a slowdown among females in most states…. It was truly a surprise that these homicide rates had such a large effect at the national level.” 

The most dramatic downshift occurred in the state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas and New Mexico. Ciudad Juárez, the largest city in Chihuahua, has long been known as one of the most dangerous municipalities in Mexico. The researchers shockingly discovered that in that state of some 3.6 million residents, the loss of life expectancy for men was an incredible three years. 

After former President Felipe Calderón launched a military campaign against drug cartels in 2005, drug violence and homicide rates jumped all across Mexico. By 2010, the murder rate had risen to 22 incidents for every 100,000 inhabitants. Investigators were startled to see how widely the violence had shaped statistics.  

According to the study, “The mortality rate for males ages 20-39 in Chihuahua in the period 2005-10 reached unprecedented levels. It was about 3.1 times higher than the mortality rate of U.S. troops in Iraq between March, 2003, and November, 2006.” Such a shocking comparative figure is almost beyond comprehension.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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