U.S. life expectancy falls 1.5 percent in 2020

A CDC analysis saw that U.S. life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years in 2020 mostly due to COVID-19.

The U.S. life expectancy has reached its lowest point since 2003 after it fell 1.5 years in 2020.

According to a Vital Statistics Rapid Release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System, the average number of years a cohort of children would live if they were to experience throughout life the age-specific death rates seen in 2020 would be 77.3 years down from 78.8 years in 2019.

When broken down by gender, life expectancy at birth for males dropped 1.8 years to 74.5 years, and for females life expectancy fell 1.2 years to 80.2 years in 2020. The difference in life expectancy between the sexes was 5.7 years, up from 5.1 years the year prior, according to the release.

The decrease in life expectancy was most pronounced in the Hispanic population where it fell be three years, from 81.8 to 78.8 years followed closely by the non-Hispanic Black population which decreased by 2.9 years, from 74.7 to 71.8 years. The decrease was 1.2 years for the non-Hispanic white population, from 78.8 to 77.6 years, the release says.

The overall life expectancy decrease was tied to increases in mortality due to COVID-19, unintentional injuries, homicide, diabetes, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The release notes that life expectancy decreases would have been more pronounced if not for decreased mortality due to cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart disease, suicide, and perinatal conditions.

Of all these factors, the release singles out COVID-19 as having the greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy. This can be seen in the difference between these life expectancy estimates and those based only on data from January to June 2020 as they dropped an addition 1.1 percent for Hispanics, 0.4 percent for non-Hispanic white, and 0.2 percent for non-Hispanic Black populations in the second half of the year, according to the release.