US life expectancy in 2020 fell the most since WWII, especially for Black Americans
US life expectancy in 2020 fell by a year and a half to 77.3 years, the largest one-year decline since World War II, a staggering drop that affected Hispanic and Black Americans more severely than white people
From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Wednesday.
White Americans experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years, the CDC report said.
African American life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression.
Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live. It’s an important statistical snapshot of a country’s health.
If an American child was born today and lived an entire life under the conditions of 2020, that child would be expected to live 77.3 years, down from 77.8 in 2019.
US health officials said the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline.
More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in US history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.
Deaths from COVID-19 contributed to nearly three-fourths, or 74%, of the decline and drug overdoses were also a major contributor, the CDC said.
The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.