After suffering more Covid-19 deaths than any other country in the world, U.S. life expectancy fell 1.5 years in 2020 to the lowest level since 2003, marking its biggest single-year drop since World War II, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though this drop was greater for Black and Hispanic Americans.
The U.S. has had more Covid deaths than any other country.
In 2020, the life expectancy for the U.S. population fell 1.5 years to 77.3 years, according to interim data from the CDC.
Deaths from Covid-19 were responsible for 74% of this decline, the CDC said, with rising deaths from drug overdoses (categorized under “unintentional injuries,” 11%), homicide (3%), diabetes (2.5%) and liver disease (2%) also noteworthy factors.
Drops in life expectancy were particularly large for people of color, the study found, falling three years for Hispanic people and 2.9 years for Black people (the report did not include data on other racial groups).
Covid-19 was responsible for 90% of the decline among Hispanic people, 59% among Black people and 68% among white people, who saw a 1.2 year drop in life expectancy.
The uneven drops in life expectancy in 2020 have widened gaps between racial and ethnic groups, the CDC said, with the disparity between Black and white Americans–which has been steadily narrowing for three decades–growing to a level not seen since 1999.
The overall fall in life expectancy would have been greater if not for the “offsetting effects” of decreasing deaths elsewhere. Fewer deaths from cancer (responsible for 45% of this offsetting decrease), as were reductions in chronic lower respiratory diseases (21%), heart disease (5%), suicide (5%) and perinatal conditions (4%).
The U.S. has suffered more Covid-19 deaths than any other country, a burden that has, as many health issues, disproportionately fallen on people of color. Structural racism makes it harder to access healthcare, while consistently lower vaccine uptake, inadequate testing and lower quality medical facilities, should treatment be needed, all contribute. Earlier studies have shown the U.S. to have experienced a far worse drop in life expectancy than other high income nations like the U.K. and Sweden.
609,536. That’s how many people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. birth rate also fell to all time lows during the pandemic, accelerating an ongoing decline. 3.6 million babies were born in 2020, the lowest number of births since 1979.