Decrease in Life Expectancy

The CDC published findings from analysis of US mortality data from January-June 2020, which indicates that the average life expectancy in the US decreased by 1 year compared to estimates from 2019. The analysis was conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and the researchers evaluated all reported deaths from the first half of 2020. The researchers estimate the overall life expectancy in the US for the first half of 2020 to be 77.8 years, a decrease from 78.8 years in 2019 and the lowest estimate since 2006. This is the largest single-year decline since World War II. The decrease was slightly greater in males than females—1.2 years compared to 0.9 years. The analysis also evaluated changes in life expectancy by racial and ethnic groups, a major concern due to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities. Life expectancy decreased by 0.8 years for the non-Hispanic White population, 1.9 years for the Hispanic population, and 2.7 years for the non-Hispanic Black population, illustrating “a worsening of racial and ethnic mortality disparities. Notably, these reported deaths include the initial COVID-19 surge, but they do not cover the autumn/winter 2020-21 surge, which exhibited a higher and more sustained mortality rate—exceeding 2,000 deaths per day since early December 2020 and 3,000 deaths per day from mid-January through mid-February 2021. One of the researchers indicated that the “majority of the decline” stemmed from the pandemic.

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