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2019 to 2020 Saw 1.5-Year Decline in U.S. Life Expectancy at Birth

Last Updated: July 21, 2021.

WEDNESDAY, July 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- From 2019 to 2020, there was a 1.5-year decline in life expectancy at birth in the United States, according to a July Vital Statistics Rapid Release report, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Elizabeth Arias, Ph.D., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues examined the effects of excess mortality observed during 2020 on life expectancy based on provisional estimates for January through December 2020.

The researchers observed a 1.5-year decline in life expectancy at birth in the United States from 2019 to 2020, from 78.8 to 77.3 years, the lowest level since 2003. Life expectancy for males declined from 76.3 to 74.5 years (decline of 1.8 years), while for females, the decline was from 81.4 to 80.2 years, a decline of 1.2 years. The disparity in life expectancy between men and women increased from 5.1 to 5.7 years from 2019 to 2020. The largest decline in life expectancy was seen for the Hispanic population, which decreased from 81.8 to 78.8 years; the second largest decline was seen in the non-Hispanic Black population (from 74.7 to 71.8 years). The decline in life expectancy was mainly due to increased mortality due to COVID-19 (73.8 percent), followed by unintentional injuries (11.2 percent).

"Mortality due to COVID-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall, among men and women, and for the three race and Hispanic-origin groups shown in this report," the authors write.

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