- Life expectancy in the United States has dropped by almost 2 years in 2020 compared to 2019.
- People of color have seen their life expectancies drop further.
- Compared to 16 comparable countries, the United States has a lower life expectancy of almost 5 years.
Extraordinary measures have been taken since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, but new
Scientists calculated life expectancy in the United States based on official death counts and found that life expectancy had dropped by almost two years on average.
“The resulting decrease in life expectancy was the largest since World War II and far greater than the losses experienced by other countries facing the same virus,” Dr. steven woolfa professor of population health and health equity at Virginia Commonwealth University, who helped conduct the research, told Healthline.
“We remain stunned by the massive loss of life the United States has suffered,” Woolf said. “Which far exceeded the losses in other wealthy countries, and by horrific consequences among people of color.”
The team found that in 2020, life expectancy in the United States decreased by 1.87 years compared to 2019. This decline was greater for black and Hispanic communities.
Woolf and his team calculated a decline of 3.70 years in Hispanic populations and just over three years in non-Hispanic black populations between 2019 and 2020.
They also found that the decline in life expectancy was much larger in the United States compared to 16 comparable countries. They estimated that life expectancy was around 4.7 years lower in 2020 than the average for these peer countries.
According to Woolf, this comes after decades of deteriorating health status in the United States compared to peer countries and “persistent” health disparities among people of color that are the legacy of systemic racism and anti-establishment policies. ‘exclusion.
“These systemic problems will persist and more excess deaths will occur unless the United States seriously addresses the root causes,” he said.
“We previously estimated that the decline in life expectancy in 2020 was historic and that Hispanics and Black Americans suffered massive losses,” Woolf said.
However, according to the analysis, the decrease in life expectancy in peer countries was only 0.58 years, with no country experiencing a decrease similar to that seen in the United States.
Researchers have found that US social spending is less equitable and less beneficial to children and families. The United States also lacks universal health care and offers weaker public health and safety protections.
According to the study’s authors, this stands in contrast to the policies adopted by American peers, which included Israel, Germany and Taiwan.
Researchers found that long-standing racial inequalities in health stemming from systemic racism, segregation, and exclusionary policies played the largest role in lowering life expectancies for black and Hispanic populations.
Peter Pittsformer associate commissioner of the FDA and president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, explained the implications of these data.
According to Pitts, there has also been a failure in public health communication to reach those most at risk of severe COVID-19.
“We’ve talked a lot about why communities of color had higher rates of COVID-19 infections, and they’re all true – but we haven’t talked about understanding infection management within these communities of color,” he said.
Better communication may have helped people understand their disease risk.
“We haven’t taken that next level of communication and said which ethnic groups are overrepresented in at-risk groups?” he said.
Researchers analyzed public health data to find that life expectancy in the United States fell precipitously between 2019 and 2020 – and hit minority populations the hardest.
Experts say systemic racism and the lack of universal health care in the United States have contributed to this decline.