U.S. life expectancy has seen its biggest single-year drop since World War II

Public health officials said on Wednesday that life expectancy in the United States had fallen by one and a half years in 2020, the biggest one-year decline since World War II. The decline in blacks and Hispanics in the United States is even worse: three years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the decline was mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said was responsible for the nearly 74% drop in overall life expectancy. Last year, more than 3.3 million Americans died, far more than any year in American history, and COVID-19 accounted for about 11% of the deaths.

Since the Great Depression in the mid-1930s, black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year. Health officials have hardly tracked the life expectancy of Hispanics, but the decline in 2020 is the largest one-year decline on record.

Mark Hayward, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas who studies changes in mortality in the United States, said the sudden drop was “basically catastrophic.”

Killers other than COVID-19 also played a role. Drug overdose reduces life expectancy, especially for whites. CDC released interim data last week Shows that about 93,000 Americans have died from drugs Last year—a 29% increase from 2019—experts cited factors such as the impact of the pandemic on limiting face-to-face sober meetings and disrupting the drug supply chain, leading to more toxic products.

Elizabeth Arias, the lead author of the report, said that similarly, the increase in homicides is a small but important reason for the decline in the number of black Americans.

Experts say that other issues affect blacks and Hispanics, including lack of access to high-quality health care, more crowded living conditions, and more people engaged in low-paying jobs, which require them to continue working during the worst of the pandemic. .

The impact on men is more pronounced than on women

Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years that a baby born in a given year can expect to live. This is an important statistical snapshot of the health of a country, and it may be affected by continuing trends such as obesity, and more temporary threats such as epidemics or wars that may not endanger these newborns’ lives.

Life expectancy in the United States has been rising for decades. But this trend stagnated for several years in 2015, and then reached 78 years and 10 months in 2019. Last year, the CDC stated that it dropped to approximately 77 years and four months.

Other findings in the new CDC report:

  • Hispanic Americans have a longer life expectancy than white or black Americans, but the decline will be greatest in 2020. The three-year decline is the largest drop since the CDC began tracking the life expectancy of Hispanics 15 years ago.
  • The life expectancy of blacks has fallen by nearly three years to 71 years and 10 months. Since 2000, it has never been so low.
  • The life expectancy of whites has fallen by approximately 14 months, to approximately 77 years and seven months. This is the lowest life expectancy of the population since 2002.

The role of COVID-19 varies by race and ethnicity. The novel coronavirus caused 90% of the life expectancy of Hispanics, 68% of whites, and 59% of blacks in the United States.

The life expectancy of men has fallen by nearly two years, but the life expectancy of women has fallen by about a year, widening the long-standing gap. The CDC estimates that life expectancy is 74 years, 6 months for boys, and 80 years, 2 months for girls.

CDC data shows that more than 80% of COVID deaths last year were people 65 years of age and older. This actually reduces the impact of the pandemic on life expectancy at birth. Compared with the elderly, the deaths of young people and children have a greater impact on life expectancy at birth.

This is why the decline last year was only half of the three-year decline in the lives of young soldiers killed in World War II between 1942 and 1943. This is only a small part of the decline between 1917 and 1918, when the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic destroyed the younger generation.

Life expectancy rebounded after these declines, and experts believe it will also rebound this time. But some people say this may take years.

Some experts say that too many people have died of COVID-19 this year, and variants of the coronavirus are spreading among unvaccinated Americans-many of them young people.

Princeton University researcher Noreen Goldman said: “We can’t do it. By 2021, we won’t be able to return to the pre-pandemic” life expectancy.

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