US Life Expectancy Declines in Biggest Drop Since WWII in 2020

The United States suffered the greatest single-year decline in life expectancy in 2020 since the second World War, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.

US life expectancy declined from 78 years and 10 months in 2019 to 77 years and 4 months in 2020, amounting to a decline of one year and six months. Life expectancy has consistently risen since World War II in the United States and other western countries, only starting to decline in the former during what some have called a transition to a third world country in 2015. (Life expectancy had modestly increased during the Trump administration, only for the progress made to be eroded in 2020.)

Some of the biggest factors in the considerable drop in life expectancy include the coronavirus, rising drug addiction, and increasing homicide rates. The decline in life expectancy was more pronounced among minority populations, with Hispanic Americans incurring the largest decline of three years. The life expectancy of Black Americans declined by a similar timeframe, and White American life expectancy declined by just over a year.

More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, more than any other year in the history of the nation. 11% of Americans who died in 2020 died of the coronavirus, showing the wide range of the virus and yet a diverse set of ailments killing the American public.

Factors that played an outsized role in that declining life expectancy included homicides, which act as a stronger force on life expectancy through the deaths of primarily younger individuals, particularly in the black community. Life expectancy declined two years for men and one year for women, widening an existing gap between the genders.

More than 80% of the Americans who died of coronavirus were age 65 and over.

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