Pandemic Drives Largest Drop in Life Expectancy Since WWII

July 21, 2021 by Dan McCue
The CDC′s Tom Harkin Global Communications Center located on the organization′s Roybal Campus in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest overall decline since World War II, the Centers for Disease Control reported Wednesday.

The decline to 77.3 years was driven by the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said.

Life expectancy at birth declined by 1.5 years, the lowest level since 2003, the center said. Between 1942 and 1943, the height of the Second World War, life expectancy in the U.S. declined 2.9 years.

In an interview with Reuters, Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, said U.S. life expectancy had been gradually increasing for 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,” Arias said.

But the numbers released Wednesday also underscored the racial disparities associated with the pandemic.

Life expectancy declined by: 

  • 1.2 years for the non-Hispanic White population, to 77.6 years;
  • 2.9 years for the non-Hispanic Black population, to 71.8 years;
  • 3 years for the Hispanic population, to 78.8 years.

Hispanic men, in particular, saw the greatest drop, 3.7 years.

COVID-19 deaths contributed to about 74% of the decline in life expectancy among the general U.S. population, according to the data. Another 11% of the decline can be attributed to increases in deaths from accidents or unintentional injuries, including drug overdose deaths.

For the Hispanic population, however, COVID-19 was responsible for 90% of the decline in life expectancy. 

For the Black population, which saw life expectancy reach the lowest level since 2000, COVID-19 contributed to 59% of the decline. For the white population, which saw life expectancy reach the lowest level since 2002, COVID-19 contributed to 68% of the decline.

While the disparity in life expectancy between the non-Hispanic White and Black population had been narrowing over the past three decades, the gap increased from 4.1 years in 2019 to 5.8 years in 2020.

The life expectancy gap between the Hispanic and White populations, meanwhile, narrowed.

The report didn’t include statistics on Asian-Americans or other racial groups.

Health

FDA Panel Takes Up Tough Questions on J&J COVID-19 Boosters

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health advisers on Friday tackled who should get boosters of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health advisers on Friday tackled who should get boosters of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine and when — and whether using a competing brand for the second dose might provide better protection. The push for boosters kicked off last month after... Read More

FDA Panel Endorses Lower-Dose Moderna COVID Shot for Booster

U.S. health advisers said Thursday that some Americans who received Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine should get a half-dose booster to bolster... Read More

U.S. health advisers said Thursday that some Americans who received Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine should get a half-dose booster to bolster protection against the virus. The panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend a booster shot for seniors, adults with other... Read More

Nursing Schools See Applications Rise, Despite COVID Burnout

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications... Read More

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge. Among them... Read More

FDA Spells Out Lower Sodium Goals for Food Industry

NEW YORK (AP) — Food companies are coming under renewed pressure to use less salt after U.S. regulators spelled out... Read More

NEW YORK (AP) — Food companies are coming under renewed pressure to use less salt after U.S. regulators spelled out long-awaited guidelines aimed at reducing sodium levels in dozens of foods including condiments, cereals, french fries and potato chips. The voluntary goals finalized Wednesday for 163... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Gene Editing Treatment Used in Human Subjects With Rare Genetic Blindness

WASHINGTON — New data presented by researchers from Editas Medicine, a leading genome editing company, reveals that gene editing treatments... Read More

WASHINGTON — New data presented by researchers from Editas Medicine, a leading genome editing company, reveals that gene editing treatments are not only safe in humans, but may hold promise of treating a rare retinal disease that leads to blindness. “We believe these findings validate the... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
How Telehealth is Helping Address Veteran Food Insecurity

WASHINGTON -- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted veterans' access to food, leading to greater food insecurity, and according to officials... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted veterans' access to food, leading to greater food insecurity, and according to officials from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, telehealth is now helping to combat the issue.  “The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has been impactful for many Americans,... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version