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2018 to 2020 Saw Large Decrease in Life Expectancy in United States

Last Updated: June 24, 2021.

THURSDAY, June 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The decrease in life expectancy seen between 2018 and 2020 was larger in the United States than in other high-income countries, according to a study published online June 24 in The BMJ.

Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., from the Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine in Richmond, and colleagues estimated changes in life expectancy in 2010 to 2018 and during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the United States and in 16 other high-income countries.

The researchers found that the gap in life expectancy between the United States and the peer-country average increased from 1.88 to 3.05 years between 2010 and 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, life expectancy decreased by 1.87 years in the United States compared with an average decrease of 0.22 years in peer countries, widening the gap to 4.69 years. Between 2018 and 2020, there was a disproportionate decrease noted in life expectancy among racial- and ethnic-minority groups in the United States, with decreases of 3.88, 3.25, and 1.36 years in Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic White populations, respectively. Reductions in life expectancies among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations were 15 and 18 times the average in peer countries, respectively.

"Evidence of disproportionate reductions in life expectancy among racial and ethnic groups in the United States, such as the disparities reported here, draws attention to the root causes of racial inequities in health, wealth, and well-being," the authors write.

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