Tuesday, 02 March, 2021

US life expectancy sees biggest decline since World War II

Life expectancy in America had already shown signs of stalling out in the years before the coronavirus US life expectancy fell by a year in the first half of 2020, CDC report finds
Cary Erickson | 18 February, 2021, 22:41

Compared to 2019, life expectancy for non-Hispanic Black people in the United States fell about three times what it did for non-Hispanic White people, by 2.7 years.

Officials say those numbers declined by the biggest levels since World War II.

"Another outcome of the decreased life expectancy estimates observed during the first half of 2020 was a worsening of racial and ethnic mortality disparities", the report noted.

Between 2014 and 2017 - a peak period of the opioid epidemic - life expectancy declined a third of a year, which itself was significant.

The average American is expected to live one year less than what was anticipated last year.

The preliminary report did not analyze life expectancy trends for Asian Americans or Native Americans.

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"It means life expectancy at birth is now 75.1 years for American men - a decline of 1.2 years from 2019". By the age of 85, the gender gap in life expectancy shrinks to about six months. It had already been known that 2020 was the deadliest year in USA history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time. Life expectancy for Black Americans dropped a stunning 2.7 years, to 72 years old, reversing a 27-year gradual closure of the gap between white and Black life expectancy. It dropped 1.9 years for Latinos, to 79.9, and 0.8 years for white people, to 78.

Patrice Howard writes on white flags before planting them to remember her recently deceased father and close friends in November at "IN AMERICA How Could This Happen.", a public art installation in Washington, D.C. Led by artist Suzanne Firstenberg, volunteers planted white flags in a field to symbolize each life lost to COVID-19 in the U.S.

Analysis by the Brookings Institution published a year ago said: "In every age category, black people are dying from Covid at roughly the same rate as white people more than a decade older". Included in those statistics are an uptick in fatal strokes and heart attacks and a record number of drug overdose deaths, 81,000 from May 2019 to May 2020. Given the six-month timeframe, the report notes that the estimates "do not reflect the entirety of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020".

As of January 6, 2021, that total was 20,507,518 years across the 81 countries, study authors say (with the caveat that estimates may be over or under, due to the difficulty of accurately recording COVID-19-related deaths).

Overall, the drop in life expectancy is more evidence of "our mishandling of the pandemic", Brawley said.