What killed 488,015 people from 1999 to 2012? A mega-crunch of data from the National Center for Health Statistics against national census data suggests that poverty may be to blame.
The study, published last week in PLOS One, looked at every U.S. fatality from unintentional injuries and income data for the entire U.S. population, for the 14-year period, down to the county level.
“This is national data — the highest quality data you could possibly have,” says investigator Eric Fleegler, MD, MPH, an emergency physician physician at Boston Children’s Hospital who is interested in socioeconomic factors in health. “It’s unusual to have data of this breadth and depth.”
Unintentional injuries are already known to be the fifth largest cause of death in the U.S., and these mortalities have been rising over the past decade. At the same time, more people are living in areas with high poverty levels.
Are these two trends connected?