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US Life Expectancy Drops To Lowest Level Since Second World War

Harry Wilmerding

The U.S. life expectancy dropped to its lowest level since World War II in 2020, multiple sources reported.

Life expectancy fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77 years in 2020, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, NBC News reported.

The average life expectancy for males fell 2.1 years from 76.3 in 2019 to 74.2 in 2020, NBC News reported. Women’s average life expectancy decreased 1.5 years from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020.

The average age-adjusted death rate surged by almost 17% in this time period, reaching 835.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2020, according to NBC News. In 2019, there were just 715.2 deaths per 100,000.

Death rates increased for every age group other than children ages one to 14, while COVID-19 became the third leading cause of death in the country in 2020, The Washington Post reported. COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for 350,831 people in 2020, roughly 10.4% of total deaths.

Life expectancy has been trending down in recent years, driven largely by drug overdoses and suicides, the Post reported. The coronavirus caused larger declines in 2020, overtaking suicides in the top 10 causes of death.

CDC data released last month showed that the U.S. recorded its highest recorded number of drug overdose deaths in a 12 month period as of April, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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