CDC: Pandemic drives U.S. life expectancy down by 1.5 years in biggest drop since World War II

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020 — and the drop was some three years for Black and Hispanic Americans, CDC data published Wednesday shows.

Why it matters: The overall life fall to 77.3 years marks the biggest drop since World War II to 77.3 years is driven by the COVID-19, per the CDC. The data also underscores the racial disparities of the pandemic.

“The decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 can primarily be attributed to deaths from the pandemic. Covid deaths accounted for nearly 75% of the decline. More than 609,000 Americans have died in the pandemic so far, roughly 375,000 of those lives were lost last year.”

— CDC

By the numbers: Life expectancy for Hispanic people fell three years in 2020, from 81.8 years in 2019 to 78.8 years. Hispanic males saw the largest drop of any group — 3.7 years to 75.3.

A decline of 2.9 years to 71.8 was recorded among Black people, while life expectancy dropped 1.2 years, from 78.8 years 77.6, among white people.COVID-19 contributed to 90% of the life expectancy decline for the Hispanic population, 67.9% for the non-Hispanic white population, and 59.3% for the non-Hispanic black population, according to the CDC.

What they’re saying: “Life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for the past several decades,” Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, told Reuters.

“The decline between 2019 and 2020 was so large that it took us back to the levels we were in 2003. Sort of like we lost a decade.”Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs at Princeton University noted that the data was “not entirely unexpected given what we have already seen about mortality rates” as the pandemic went on, per the Washington Post. “But that still doesn’t stop it from being just horrific, especially for non-Hispanic Blacks and for Hispanics,” Case added.

Read the CDC provisional report, via DocumentCloud:

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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