“U.S. Life Expectancy Falls Again in ‘Historic’ Setback”

“The decline during the pandemic is the sharpest in nearly 100 years, hitting Native American and Alaska Native communities particularly hard.

I.C.U. in Cleveland, Ohio.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Roni Caryn Rabin

By Roni Caryn Rabin for The New York Times

Aug. 31, 2022. Updated 2:22 p.m. ET

“The average life expectancy of Americans fell precipitously in 2020 and 2021, the sharpest two-year decline in nearly 100 years and a stark reminder of the toll exacted on the nation by the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2021, the average American could expect to live until the age of 76, federal health researchers reported on Wednesday. The figure represents a loss of almost three years since 2019, when Americans could expect to live, on average, nearly 79 years.

“The reduction has been particularly steep among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, the National Center for Health Statistics reported. Average life expectancy in those groups was shortened by four years in 2020 alone.

“The cumulative decline since the pandemic started, more than six and a half years on average, has brought life expectancy to 65 among Native Americans and Alaska Natives — on par with the figure for all Americans in 1944.

“U.S. Life Expectancy by Race

“Note: Life expectancy figures for White, Black, Asian and Native people exclude Hispanics.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics

“In 2021, the shortening of life span was more pronounced among white Americans than among Black Americans, who saw greater reductions in the first year of the pandemic.

“While the pandemic has driven most of the decline in life expectancy, a rise in accidental deaths and drug overdoses also contributed, as did deaths from heart disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, the new report found…”

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