Life Expectancy Falls More Drastically in US than in Other High Income Countries
By Staff, Agencies
Life expectancy in the US decreased much more sharply last year than in other wealthy countries, new research revealed.
As a result, the average person in the US now lives 4.69 years less than their peers in 16 comparable countries, which include Denmark, New Zealand, South Korea and the UK, The Independent reported.
Between 2018 and 2020, life expectancy in the US dropped by 1.87 years to 76.87 years, while the peer country average only decreased by 0.22 years to 81.56 years.
This indicates an acceleration of a pre-existing trend, with the gulf between the US’ and these other nations’ life expectancies widening from 1.88 to 3.05 years between 2010 and 2018.
As part of their findings, the report’s authors noted that Hispanic and black communities in the US had been particularly badly affected between 2018 and 2020.
While white populations in the US saw life expectancy dip by 1.36 years over this period, black and Hispanic populations recorded a reduction of 3.25 and 3.88 years respectively, a rate 15 to 18 times higher than the average decline in the 16 other countries.
In their paper, the researchers ascribed these unequal outcomes in America to “longstanding policy choices and systemic racism.”
To reach their results, the study’s authors calculated their 2010-2018 estimates from official life tables, which were then simulated for 2020. Since data from 2019 was unavailable in some of the peer countries, that year was excluded from the study.
Steven Woolf, from Virginia Commonwealth University, and his research colleagues acknowledged the potential for error in their simulated life expectancies for 2020. However, they pointed out that their work is closely aligned with previous research.
Although it has long been known that the US’ high COVID-19 death toll would have an effect on its 2020 life expectancy, this is the first study to put a number on it.
Magali Barbieri, of the University of California, said the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing problems in the US, where life expectancy has long been lower than other high income countries.
“Understanding the reasons for the disproportionate toll of the disease on the US population and developing appropriate interventions and policies provides an opportunity to correct the structural factors that have historically been hampering US progress in life expectancy and that have been driving large social and ethno-racial inequities in the risks of death,” she added.
To date, the US has recorded 602,092 deaths from COVID-19 and a total of 33,554,275 infections, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.