Life expectancy within the US fell probably the most since World Warfare II in 2020 | US information
Life expectancy in the U.S. fell a year and a half in 2020, the biggest drop since World War II, public health officials said on Wednesday. The decline in both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was worse: three years.
The decline noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is mainly due to the pandemic, which is responsible for nearly 74% of the total decline in life expectancy, according to health officials. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in US history, with Covid accounting for about 11% of those deaths.
The results come as officials across the country ponder the possibility of resuming some of the tougher efforts to contain the virus, including universal mask wear and vaccine work requirements. The Los Angeles District recently reintroduced its internal mask guidelines.
The life expectancy of black people has not fallen as much in one year since the mid-1930s during the Great Depression. Health officials haven’t tracked Hispanic American life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 drop was the biggest drop in a year.
The abrupt decline was “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in US mortality rates.
Other killers than Covid also played a role. Drug overdoses depressed life expectancy, especially for white people. And the rising murders are a small but important reason for the decline in Black Americans, said Elizabeth Arias, the report’s lead author.
Other issues affected Black and Hispanic Americans, including lack of access to quality health care, cramped living conditions and a larger proportion of the population in low-paying jobs requiring them to keep working when the pandemic was at its worst, experts said.
Life expectancy is an estimate of the average life expectancy of a baby in a given year. It is an important statistical snapshot of a country’s health that can be affected by both persistent trends such as obesity and more transient threats such as pandemics or war that may not endanger these newborns during their lifetime.
For decades, life expectancy in the United States has been on the rise. But this trend stalled for several years in 2015 before reaching 78 years and 10 months in 2019. Last year, according to the CDC, it dropped to about 77 years and four months.
More than 80% of Covid deaths last year were people 65 and over, CDC data shows.
That has actually lessened the pandemic’s toll on life expectancy at birth, which is more affected by deaths of younger adults and children than seniors.
Therefore, the decline last year was only half the three-year decline between 1942 and 1943, when young soldiers died in the war. And it was only a fraction of the decline between 1917 and 1918, when the First War and a Spanish flu pandemic devastated younger generations.
Life expectancy recovered after these slumps, and experts believe it will this time around too. But some said it could take years.