US life expectancy fell by a year and a half last year, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said yesterday.
The decrease for black and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years.
The drop spelled out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74 percent of the overall life expectancy decline.
More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in US history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11 percent of those deaths.
Life expectancy among black people has not fallen so much in one year since the middle of the 1930s, during the Great Depression.
Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but last year’s decline was the largest recorded one-year drop.
The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in US mortality.
Killers other than COVID-19 played a role. Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly for white people, and rising homicides were a small but significant reason for the decline for black Americans, said Elizabeth Arias, the report’s lead author.
Other problems affected black and Hispanic people, including lack of access to quality healthcare, more crowded living conditions and a greater share of the population in lower-paying jobs that required them to keep working when the pandemic was at its worst, experts said.
Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live. It is a statistical snapshot of a country’s health that can be influenced by sustained trends such as obesity as well as more temporary threats like pandemics or war that might not endanger those newborns in their lifetimes.
For decades, US life expectancy was on the upswing, but that trend stalled in 2015, for several years, before hitting 78 years, 10 months in 2019. Last year, it dropped to about 77 years, 4 months, the CDC said.
COVID-19’s role varied by race and ethnicity. The virus was responsible for 90 percent of the decline in life expectancy among Hispanics, 68 percent among white people and 59 percent among black Americans, it said.
Life expectancy fell nearly two years for men, but about one year for women, widening a long-standing gap, it said.
The CDC estimated life expectancy of 74 years, 6 months for boys and 80 years, 2 months for girls.
Twice a day Hong Kong’s virtually deserted airport fills with the sound of tearful goodbyes as residents fearful for their future under China’s increasingly authoritarian rule start a new life overseas, mostly in Britain. London flights tend to leave in the afternoon and late evening, and for a few hours it briefly feels like the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists as the airport comes to life. Check-in desks fill up with crowds of passengers wheeling as much luggage as their tickets will permit. Accompanied by the loved ones they leave behind, the scenes are emotionally charged and shadowed by a palpable pall of
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
A man has confessed to defrauding Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu (吳亦凡) over a teenager’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was drunk, Beijing police said on Thursday. The announcement added a bizarre twist to a scandal that cost Wu endorsement contracts with brands including Porsche and Bulgari. The former member of South Korean boy band EXO has denied the accusation, which drew an outpouring of online support for the woman and criticism of Wu. On Friday, Louis Vuitton became the latest brand to end its contract with Wu. A man who saw rumors about the incident online contacted the woman
Buried in a long US indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. The target of the hack, which two sources with knowledge of the indictment said was the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also revealing: discussions between China and Cambodia over the use of the Mekong River, a new battleground for US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Four Chinese — three security officials and a contract hacker — have been charged for attacks aimed at dozens