U.S. Life Expectancy Dropped Between 2019 and 2020

Decrease larger in Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black versus non-Hispanic White population; decrease larger than in peer countries

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WEDNESDAY, April 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. life expectancy decreased between 2019 and 2020, on a larger scale than seen in 21 other high-income countries, according to a study published online April 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, and colleagues calculated changes in U.S. life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 by sex, race, and ethnicity in a cross-sectional study involving a simulation of life tables based on national death and population counts for the United States and 21 peer high-income countries.

The researchers found that U.S. life expectancy decreased by a mean of 1.87 years between 2019 and 2020, with much larger decreases seen in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black versus non-Hispanic White populations (3.70 and 3.22 years, respectively, versus 1.38 years). Across all 21 countries, the mean decrease in life expectancy in peer countries was 0.58 years. None of the peer countries experienced decreases as large as those seen in the United States.

"The decrease in U.S. life expectancy was experienced disproportionately by Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations, consistent with a larger history of racial and ethnic health inequities resulting from policies of exclusion and systemic racism," the authors write. "Policies to address the systemic causes of the U.S. health disadvantage relative to peer countries and persistent racial and ethnic inequities are essential."

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