Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year in the first half of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic triggered the first wave of deaths, health officials said.
Racial minorities have suffered the most. For example, life expectancy for black Americans dropped by three years and Hispanics by nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday.
“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees these statistics at the CDC. “The last time such a decline was observed during the Second World War, in the 1940s.”
Life expectancy refers to the estimated life expectancy of an infant born today. In the first half of last year, it was 77.8 years, which is a year less than 78.8 years in 2019. For men, this indicator was 75.1 years, for women – 80.5 years.
Among racial groups, Hispanics in the United States have had and still have the greatest life expectancy. Black Americans live six years less than whites today. The gap between these groups has been narrowing since 1993, but widened again last year.
Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy for black Americans fell 2.7 years to 72 years. It declined 1.9 years for Hispanics to 79.9 years, and 0.8 years for whites to 78 years.
The preliminary report does not analyze trends for Asian Americans and Native Americans.