The COVID-19 pandemic has caused life expectancy in the United States to fall by a year and a half, with a loss of three years in Latino life expectancy and 2.9 years for African-Americans, the government reported Wednesday.
Provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show the largest one-year decline in U.S. life expectancy since 1943.
The average life expectancy for the entire population last year was 77.3 years, a level not recorded since 2003.
For women, it dropped from 81.4 years in 2019 to 80.2 years in 2020. For men, life expectancy fell from 76.3 in 2019 to 74.5 in 2020.
Those who experienced the largest drop in life expectancy were Latinos, with a decline from 81.8 years to 78.8 years. Among Hispanic men, life expectancy fell from 79 to 75.3 years.
Life expectancy among African-Americans fell from 74.7 to 71.8 years, and among African-Americans, life expectancy among men fell from 71.3 to 68 years.
The report notes that covid-19 reduced the life expectancy of Latinos to 90 percent; compared to 67.9 percent reduction in life expectancy for whites, and 59.3 percent for blacks.
The leading causes of death continue to be heart disease and cancer, but it was the pandemic, which killed 385,201 people in the country according to the Centers for Disease Control, that weighed on the reduction in life expectancy.
In addition, the pandemic led to an increase in deaths from other causes as well.
Last year 93,000 people died from drug overdoses, a phenomenon that intensified during quarantines, with 20,000 more deaths than in the previous year.
Nearly 70,000 overdose deaths were the result of natural or synthetic opioids.
Government data also indicate that deaths from homicide, diabetes and liver disease – which are a sign of alcohol abuse – increased during the pandemic quarantines and suspensions of activities.
The report shows that the total fertility rate – that is, the number of children a woman is expected to have – declined last year to 1.64, the lowest level since the 1930s when this indicator began to be tracked.
In addition, births declined substantially in December, when babies conceived in March and April were due, a sign that couples may have postponed their childbearing plans due to the onset of the pandemic.