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Life expectancy in the U.S. takes biggest hit since World War II

COVID-19 pandemic highlights other health concerns
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 12:34:08-04

Life expectancy in the United States fell by nearly two years in 2020, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the finding of a study co-authored by University of Colorado assistant professor of sociology Ryan Masters.

“The overall loss of life was astoundingly high in the United States, and unlike other countries, it was far more concentrated at younger ages,” Masters said.

The study found an even larger loss of life expectancy among Black and Hispanic men and women. The life expectancy for a Black man in the United States fell to under 68 for the first time since the 1990s.

Here is a breakdown of life expectancy at birth:

U.S. Overall:
79.75 for women | 74.06 for men in 2020
`81.04 for women | 76.20 for men in 2010

U.S. Non-Hispanic Black populations:
75.34 for women | 67.73 for men in 2020
77.70 for women | 71.51 for men in 2010

U.S. Hispanic populations:
81.38 for women | 74.50 for men in 2020
84.26 for women | 78.84 for men in 2010

Peer countries (16):
81.56 in 2020
80.54 in 2010

“For the last 30 years, the United States has been falling increasingly behind life expectancy in other high-income countries,” Masters said.

Maters said some of the factors behind this decline, including obesity and cardiovascular diseases, are likely the same reasons the United States fared so poorly during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that while the coronavirus may pose less of a direct health threat now to vaccinated people, the pandemic will continue to affect quality and quantity of life in the United States.

"There have been some studies showing that upwards of nine to 10 people are immediately impacted by the loss of a death from COVID, so the ramifications that this has on family, on economic earnings, on financial stability, I think is going to be devastating," Masters said.