CDC: US life expectancy drops 1 year during pandemic
In the first half of 2020, life expectancy for the total U.S. population dropped an entire year, bringing it to 77.8 years, according to the CDC.
Black Americans experienced the most significant drop in life expectancy during that time, from 74.7 years to 72 years, followed by the Hispanic population, which saw a decrease from 81.8 years to 79.9 years. Life expectancy dropped by less than a year for the non-Hispanic white population — from 78.8 years to 78 years.
Elizabeth Arias, PhD, a member of the statistical analysis and research team at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and colleagues said the data “do not reflect the entirety of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020” or other changes in causes of death, like increases in drug overdose deaths through early 2020. The data may disproportionately represent mortality reported in certain U.S. regions hit hardest by the pandemic early on, as opposed to the regions that were affected later in the year.
“As a result, life expectancy at birth for the first half of 2020 may be underestimated since the populations more severely affected, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations, are more likely to live in urban areas,” Arias and colleagues wrote.
A November 2019 analysis based on life expectancy data from the U.S. Mortality Database from 1959 to 2016 and cause-specific mortality rates from the CDC WONDER database for individuals aged 25 to 64 years showed that U.S. life expectancy was already in decline. In November 2020, the Global Burden of Disease Study authors announced that exposure to chronic disease risk factors rose in the past decade, suggesting that if lifestyle changes are not made, life expectancy could begin to drop and the effects of COVID-19 pandemic could be exacerbated.