This is a picture of the Alaska Department of Health building in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

This is a picture of the Alaska Department of Health building in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Life expectancy up; births, deaths trend downward in 2022

The Kenai Peninsula saw 629 births last year

Life expectancy is up in Alaska amid a decline in the number of deaths and births in the state, according to the Alaska Vital Statistics 2022 Annual Report, published Monday by the State Department of Health.

The annually published report details trends in a variety of “Alaska resident vital events,” the report says. These include births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions. The report says that the data is collated annually by the department in accordance with state statute. The Health Analytics and Vital Records Section collects information from certificates filed with the state for each of the described vital events.

Births

Births have declined each year since 2018 — around 9,400 births were reported in 2022, down from 10,100 in 2018. The Kenai Peninsula saw 629 births last year.

Statewide, newborn children were 51% male and 49% female. The most popular names by gender were Oliver, given to 45 boys, and Aurora and Charlotte tied at 38 each for girls.

The fertility rate was described in this year’s report as “down slightly,” 63.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years in 2022 compared to 64.2 in 2021. That rate has also declined each year since 2018.

Deaths

Around 5,700 Alaska residents died in 2022, down from 6,200 in 2021, the report says. That number remains higher than the counts reported in 2018, 2019 and 2020, which ranged from 4,500 to 5,200. In the Kenai Peninsula, 575 people died last year.

Life expectancy has risen from 75.4 in 2021 to 76.8 in 2022.

In 2022, deaths were attributed most widely to cancer, at 1,060. Diseases of the heart killed 990, and “accidents” killed 547. COVID-19, which in 2021 killed 762 Alaska residents, killed 265. Other major drivers of resident deaths described in the report are strokes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, suicide, chronic liver disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney disease.

Alcohol was implicated in 286 Alaska deaths in 2022, while drugs factored in 268.

Firearms were involved in 163 resident deaths, the report says. That includes 114 suicides and 41 homicides.

Marriages

The state saw around 4,800 marriages in 2022, the report says. The majority, 92%, were reportedly between members of the opposite sex, while 2% were between members of the same sex. A further 6% are described as “not specified.” Around 700 marriages were reported in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

There were 2,200 separations in Alaska last year, according to the report. Those followed the exact same distribution of sexual orientations, 92% of couples divorcing being composed of members of the opposite sex and 2% being members of the same sex. Around 200 separations were reported in the Gulf Coast.

To view the full report, find the Health Analytics and Vital Records Section in the Department of Health’s Division of Public Health at doh.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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