Life expectancy in the U.S. fell by a year and a half in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
The Covid-19 pandemic was responsible for most of the decline, accounting for 74% of the drop from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years one year later. More than 3.3 million Americans died in 2020 – the largest number of annual deaths in the nation’s history – with Covid responsible for about 11% of the total.
Life expectancy hasn’t fallen that much since World War II. Between 1942 and 1943, it dropped by 2.9 years.
The decline was particularly severe in Black and Hispanic communities. Life expectancy for Black Americans fell by 2.9 years, while Hispanics saw a reduction of 3 years. The decrease for whites was 1.2 years.
“It’s horrific,” economist Anne Case told The Washington Post. “It’s not entirely unexpected given what we have already seen about mortality rates as the year went on, but that still doesn’t stop it from being just horrific, especially for non-Hispanic Blacks and for Hispanics.”