The average life expectancy in the United States continues its decline, with many attributing the shortened lifespans to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The life expectancy rate in the U.S. declined by 1.8 years this year, meaning people were expected to live until 77 on average in 2020, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
"We haven't seen a decline like this since 1943," Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, said in a press statement.
"Normally, we don't see fluctuations of more than two or three tenths in a year. So, any sort of change of this magnitude is really quite unusual. And we can attribute the bulk of this decrease in life expectancy to COVID-19," he continued.
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The NCHS estimates that death rates rose among every demographic group except for children ages 1 to 14 in 2020. Males saw a more significant drop than females in life expectancy, with men expected to survive until 74.2 in 2020, a 2.1-year decline from 2019's 76.3. Women only saw a 1.5-year drop in life expectancy, moving from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020.
The average death rate increased by nearly 17%, from 715.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 to 835.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020.
The data also noted distinct increases in deaths among the Hispanic and black communities. Hispanic male deaths increased by almost 43%, while Hispanic female deaths rose by 32%. Black males saw their death rate increase by 28%, while black females saw their death rate rise by 25%.
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The transmission of the coronavirus also created a new cause of death in 2020. COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for 350,831 people in 2020, accounting for 10.4% of deaths recorded that year. But the No. 1 cause of death continued to be heart disease, followed by cancer, COVID, unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer's disease, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease.
A provisional NCHS report released in July estimated the expectancy rate would drop by 1.5 years.