US millennial women are now more likely to die in their late 20s and early 30s than any generation since the World War II era: report


Three young women pose for a we-fie shot.

Millennial women are seeing a reduction in the wage gap and better graduation rates, but a stark rise in premature deaths, the PRB said.LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

  • US millennial women saw their well-being decline, a first in modern times, per non-profit PRB.

  • Homicide, maternal mortality, and suicide rates have all increased for women aged 25 to 34.

  • The sudden reversal in progress for young women’s safety comes despite an improved economic status.

For decades, young women in the US saw sharp progress in their health and safety with each passing generation, but that momentum has now reversed for millennials.

That’s according to a November 30 report published by the Washington DC-based non-profit Population Reference Bureau, which studied the well-being of women aged 25 to 34 from each generation of Americans.

It found that women born between 1981 and 1999 — widely classified as millennials — have seen the first drop in well-being since the Silent Generation as they live through young adulthood.

“Women today are more likely to die during their late 20s and early 30s than at any other point in the previous three generations,” said the report.

Maternal mortality, suicide, and homicide rates soar

The death rate has risen in parallel with a startling increase in maternal mortality rates among women aged 25 to 34, with 30.4 deaths due to pregnancy complications out of 100,000 births for millennials, the report said.

That’s compared to 21 deaths per 100,000 births for the Silent Generation — or women who were born during and before World War II — and 7.5 for baby boomers and 9.2 for Generation X when they were aged 25 to 34.

The report acknowledged that part of the surge might be due to better data collection in recent years. But it also noted that after all US states implemented a new data system in 2019, pregnancy deaths continued to rise sharply.

Millennial women are also the first in the last century to experience rising suicide rates, with 7 suicides among 100,000 women aged 25 to 34, the report said.

Baby boomer and Gen X women, meanwhile, saw a respective 6 and 4.4 suicides per 100,000 women when they were aged 25 to 34.

While White millennial women saw suicide rates decline, young Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, mixed-race, and Hispanic women experienced increases. Statistics for women of other ethnicities were not specifically presented.

And homicide rates for millennial women rose to 4.5 deaths per 100,000 women aged 25 to 34, compared to 4.3 deaths for Gen X women when they were the same age, according to PRB.

Violent deaths among young women actually fell to 3.3 per 100,000 people in 2017, when PRB issued its last index. But statistics now show the rate swelled so quickly in the last six years that it surpassed that of Gen X, per the report.

Like with suicides, homicide rates are higher among young women of color, the report said. LGBTQ+ individuals are also often targeted at far higher rates, it added.

Contributing factors to the overall rise included the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased domestic violence rates, and a recent leap in gun violence incidents, the report also said.

Homicide is now also the leading cause of death for pregnant and postnatal women, more so than typical maternal mortality causes, the report noted.

“Sadly, the tale of generational progress that we have taken for granted in recent generations is no longer a guarantee for Millennial and Gen Z women,” the report’s authors, led by research analyst Sara Srygley, wrote.

But millennial women also are faring better in the economy

The decline in safety among millennial women comes despite their improved financial and education status compared to generations before.

At least 43.6% of young millennial women in the US have graduated college — a record level in modern history. That’s compared to 28% of Gen X women and 22% of baby boomer women who graduated by the time they turned 34, the report said.

Young millennial women are also seeing a reduction in the wage gap, earning 89.7 cents for every dollar that men earn, compared to 82.4 cents on the dollar for Gen X women who were the same age.

The PRB said its well-being indices were built on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Census Bureau, the Labor Department, the Justice Department’s statistics bureau, and the Center for American Women and Politics in Rutgers University.

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