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Life expectancy in US fell 1.5 years in 2020, the biggest single-year drop since WWII

life expectancy
Posted at 5:02 AM, Jul 21, 2021

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, according to research released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy for an American in 2020 was 77.3 years — a drop from 78.8 in 2019.

Black and Hispanic Americans saw an even more dire drop in life expectancy: A decrease in three years.

The drop is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials say is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline.

According to the CDC, more than 3.3 million Americans died in 2020 — far more than any other year in history. COVID-19 accounted for about 11% of those deaths.

But it wasn't just the pandemic that lowered life expectancy. The CDC says other killers were to blame as well.

Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly among white Americans. Rising homicides were a small but significant reason for the decline in life expectancy for Black Americans.

The report also attributed falling life expectancy among Black and Hispanic Americans to lack of access to quality health care, more crowded living conditions and a greater share of the population in lower-paying jobs.