US Life Expectancy Falls

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Due in large part to deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, life expectancy in the U.S. fell by a year and a half in 2020 to 77.3 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the largest drop since World War II.

COVID-19 was responsible for 74% of the decline in life expectancy. There was a record 3.3 million deaths in the U.S. in 2020.

Black Americans saw the biggest drop in life expectancy since the 1930s, dropping from 74.7 years to 71.8 years.

Life expectancy for white Americans fell from 78.8 years to 77.6 years, while life expectancy for Hispanic Americans fell from 81.8 years to 78.8 years.  

Lack of quality healthcare, low-paying jobs, and crowded living conditions were factors that played a part in the drop in life expectancy. 

The pandemic was responsible for 90% of the decline among Hispanic Americans, 68% among white Americans, and 59% among Black Americans. Life expectancy fell two years for men and one year for women.

The CDC says the life expectancy for men is now 74 years and 6 months, and 80 years and 2 months for women. 

More than 80% of COVID-related deaths in 2020 were from Americans who were 65 years old or older, according to the CDC.

“Life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for the past several decades, the decline between 2019 and 2020 was so large that it took us back to the levels we were in 2003. Sort of like we lost a decade,” said CDC researcher Elizabeth Arias.

Other factors played a role in the drop in U.S. life expectancy. Drug overdoses rose 30% and there was a sharp increase in homicides.

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