U.S. life expectancy just dropped by more than a year — the largest decline in decades — as a result of the sheer number of deaths from COVID-19, according to estimates from a new study.
The study researchers project that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average U.S. life expectancy in 2020 will drop by 1.13 years, bringing it to 77.48 years, according to the study, published Thursday (Jan. 14) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s the largest single-year decline in life expectancy in at least 40 years, and it would bring the country’s life expectancy down its lowest level since 2003, the researchers said.
Life expectancy in the U.S. rarely declines, and when it does, it makes headlines. Most recently, U.S. life expectancy declined by 0.1 years in 2015, 2016 and 2017 — a trend that was attributed to rises in “deaths of despair,” including drug overdose and suicide. The new estimated decline due to COVID-19 is 10 times greater.
What’s more, the study showed even larger declines in 2020 among Black and Latino communities, which have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Overall, nearly 400,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard.
The study projected life expectancy for Black people will drop by 2.1 years, to 72.78 years, and life expectancy for Latino people will drop by 3.05 years, to 78.77 years. In contrast, the life expectancy for white people is projected to decline by 0.68 years to 77.84 years. [Continue reading…]