US life expectancy drops

August 31, 2022
A photo an elderly person holding onto a baby.

It’s a dismal situation. It was bad before and it’s gotten worse.

University of Pennsylvania demographer Samuel Preston. The U.S. life expectancy dropped for the second year in a row, making it the sharpest two-year decline in almost 100 years.

Why It Matters: The CDC released new provisional data outlining life expectancy in 2021. The average life expectancy from 2021 is about 76 years old, which is the lowest it has been since 1996, and down from the expected 77 years in 2020.

COVID-19 related deaths, unintentional injuries (particularly drug overdoses), and heart disease were among the largest contributors to the decline.

  • Life expectancy is described as “the most fundamental indicator of population health in this country” by Robert Hummer, a University of North Carolina researcher who focuses on population health patterns.
  • Men & Women Age Differences: The gap between men and women widened. Life expectancy at birth among males was about 73 years while female life expectancy was about 79 years old.
  • The data also examined life expectancies among different ethnicities. American Indian and Alaskan Native people saw the largest decrease from 2020-2021 in life expectancy, dropping almost two years with an expected age of about 65 years.

For a deeper look at the data, check out this Associated Press article.

U.S. Life Expectancy Falls Again in ‘Historic’ Setback (The New York Times)

by Jenna Lee,