Average life expectancy has fallen in Alaska as more people are dying and fewer are being born, according to the state Department of Health. Marriages are up and separations are down.
The 2021 Vital Statistics Report from the State Department of Health was published last week, reporting slightly fewer births in 2021 than in 2020, and a larger increase in the number of deaths — partnered with a decrease in the average life expectancy from 80 to 77.5.
The purpose of the Vital Statistics Report is to monitor trends in the number and rate of births and deaths, as well as the types of diseases and injuries that result in deaths. Information is collected constantly as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and other indicating documents are filed with the state.
The report shows that in 2021, 9,410 Alaska residents gave birth, for a fertility rate of 64.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. In 2020, there were 9,479 births with a fertility rate of 65.5.
This year, the most popular name for newborn girls was Amelia, while the most popular name for boys came to a tie between Noah and Oliver.
In 2021, there were 6,216 resident deaths — up from 5,183 in 2020. The top five leading causes of death in the state were malignant neoplasms, which claimed 1,091 lives; heart diseases, which claimed 1,011 lives; COVID-19, which claimed 762 lives; accidents, which took 591; and cerebrovascular diseases, at 253.
Other mortality incidences highlighted in the report include alcohol-induced death, drug-induced death and firearm deaths.
Alcohol-induced death includes alcohol poisoning and alcoholic liver disease — which resulted in 315 deaths in 2021, up from 242 in 2020.
Drugs were indicated in 272 deaths in 2021, up from 179 in 2020. Opioids, including fentanyl, were involved in 199 deaths last year, up from 112 in 2020. Psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, were involved in 163 deaths, up from 70 in 2020.
Firearms were involved in 182 deaths last year, with 142 being intentional self-harm and 31 being homicide. These numbers are all up from 2020 when there were 175 firearm-related deaths — 133 being self-harm and 27 being homicides.
Infant and fetal deaths were slightly higher in 2021 than in 2020, but not by a large margin.
There were more marriages in 2021 than in 2020, with 4,635 in 2021 and 4,169 in 2020. Despite an increase in marriages, the number of separations fell — 2,286 in 2021 compared to 2,395 in 2020.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.