US life expectancy falls the most since WWII to 77.3 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC report finds 

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused life expectancy in the U.S. to decrease by 1.5 years, a new report suggests.

In 2019, life expectancy – or the average number of years a person lives – for the general American population was 78.8 years.

However, using provisional data and estimates, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found this figure fell to 77.3 years in 2020.

This represents the biggest drop seen since World War II. 

While the decline in life expectancy is primarily due to the virus – which has killed more than 600,000 Americans so far – the team says there are other factors at play including a rise in drug overdoses and deaths from diabetes. 

Life expectancy in the U.S. fell by 1.5 years from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020, a new CDC report finds, representing the biggest drop seen since World War II

Life expectancy in the U.S. fell by 1.5 years from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020, a new CDC report finds, representing the biggest drop seen since World War II

Life expectancy among males dropped 1.8 years from 76.3 years to 74.5 years and fell 1.2 years for females from 81.4 years to 80.2 years.

Life expectancy among males dropped 1.8 years from 76.3 years to 74.5 years and fell 1.2 years for females from 81.4 years to 80.2 years.

For the report, published on Wednesday, the team used NCHS life tables to calculate life expectancy.

Estimates were simulated for 2020 by looking at provisional death counts because final death counts will not be available until late 2021.

Researchers found that between 2019 and 2020, U.S. life expectancy decreased by 1.5 years from 78.8 years to 77.3 years.

This is a drop not seen since World War II, when life expectancy declined by 2.9 years from 66.2 years in 1942 to 63.3 years in 1943, according to CDC data. 

Both men and women saw declines in life expectancy, although the drop was steeper for men.  

Hispanic Americans saw a decline of three years and black Americans saw 2.9 years bit white Americans saw a drop of just 1.2 years

Hispanic Americans saw a decline of three years and black Americans saw 2.9 years bit white Americans saw a drop of just 1.2 years

Life expectancy among males dropped 1.8 years from 76.3 years to 74.5 years and fell 1.2 years for females from 81.4 years to 80.2 years.

This means that the difference in life expectancy between the sexes increased to 5.7 in 2020 from 5.1 in 2019.

When it came to looking at the declines in life expectancy by race and ethnicity, there were large disparities.

The smallest drop in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 was among whites, falling just 1.2 years from 77.8 to 77.6, on part with the general population.

But the Hispanic and black populations saw declines that were three-fold greater.

Life expectancy among blacks fell by 2.9 years from 74.7 to 71.8 and fell three years for Hispanics from 81.8 to 78.8.

Hispanic Americans had enjoyed higher life expectancies than whites for many years, but that gap was almost completely erased by the pandemic.

Additionally, the life expectancy between whites and blacks had been narrowing, but the advantage of Caucasians over blacks increased by 45 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Researchers say the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to 74% of the decline but other factors include a rise in drug overdose deaths and homicides

Researchers say the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to 74% of the decline but other factors include a rise in drug overdose deaths and homicides

More than 609,000 COVID-related deaths have occurred in the U.S. in total with 347,000 occurring last year

More than 609,000 COVID-related deaths have occurred in the U.S. in total with 347,000 occurring last year

According to the researchers, the last time the gap in life expectancy between the two races was this large was in 1999.

The team states that the decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 can primarily be attributed to COVID-19 deaths, which contributed to 74 percent of the drop.

In 2020, 347,341 people in the U.S. died due to COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

‘Mortality due to COVID-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall, among men and women, and for the three race and Hispanic-origin groups shown in this report,’ the authors wrote. 

What’s more, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased nearly 30% and claimed a record 93,000 lives in 2020 also accounting for the rise.

Other factors contributing to the decline in life expectancy in 2020 include deaths from homicide, diabetes and chronic liver disease, the team said.

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