U.S. Life Expectancy Sees Biggest Drop Since WWII, falls by 1.5 years in 2020


According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen by one and a half year. This is the steepest fall since World War II. The health agency says that COVID-19 is the main reason for such a huge fall.


The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said that the coronavirus was responsible for a 74 percent decrease in life expectancy. It fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020. This is the first time since World II that there has been such a sharp fall. Between 1942 and 1943 life expectancy dropped by 2.9 years.


Community wise, the sharpest falls have been seen among Blacks and Hispanics. Both the communities saw their life expectancies fall by almost three or three years which is double the national average.


African Americans saw an almost 3-year decline in life expectancy as it was 74.7 years in 2019 and it decreased by 2.9 years to 71.8 in 2020.


A major decline was seen among American Hispanics which fell by 3 years. The life expectancy of Hispanics was the highest among all groups at 81.8 years and it fell to 78.8 years in 2020 with males seeing the steepest decline of 3.7 years. About 90 percent of the decline in life expectancy among Hispanics was due to COVID-19.


COVID has not been the only cause of the decrease in life expectancy. In 2020, more than 93,000 people died after overdosing on drugs. This is the highest reported figure in a year. Other factors included an increase in homicides.


Two other illnesses that have been contributing to a decline in life expectancy are diabetes and chronic liver disease as the number of those who are getting these two diseases has been increasing partly due to faulty food habits and partly due to substance abuse.


Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine told NPR’s Alison Aubrey that the nation had not seen such a steep decline since the second world war and that it was a “horrific decrease in life expectancy.”

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