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Life expectancy increased in the US in 2022, although not by enough to offset the pandemic’s effects.

By HENRY Nov 29, 2023


A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released on Wednesday states that after two years of notable decreases mostly caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, life expectancy in the United States increased somewhat in 2022.

According to CDC statistics, the life expectancy at birth (the estimated length of time a newborn born in a certain year is anticipated to live) increased by 1.1 years from 2021 to 77.5 years in 2022.

Still, the figure is lower than the 78.8-year life expectancy that was recorded for the United States in 2019.

“We’re trying to get back to the numbers we had in 2019,” said Steven Woolf, the director emeritus of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health. “We had this dip during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In 2020, life expectancy declined in other affluent countries as well, but in 2021, with the introduction of vaccinations and improved Covid treatments, life expectancy started to rise once again. In 2021, life expectancy declined considerably further in the United States.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Graphic: Joe Murphy / NBC News



The startling deterioration of mortality circumstances in the United States has finally come to an end, according to Ryan Masters, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “To see an increase now in 2022 is great.” “However, it’s only slightly improving American mortality conditions, and it’s coming a year later than what other comparable countries experienced.”

Life expectancy had mostly plateaued in the United States prior to the epidemic, but it was still rising in other nations.

According to Woolf, “the U.S. had already been doing quite poorly compared to other countries.” “There is now a huge gap between the United States and other countries.”

Reduced COVID-19 mortality are increasing life expectancy.

According to the CDC data, the significant decline in Covid fatalities in 2022 was the primary factor contributing to the rise in life expectancy that year. The surge was also partly explained by smaller declines in fatalities from other causes, such as murder, heart disease, cancer, and accidental accidents.

get this image at (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

According to CDC experts, if there had been no increase in perinatal fatalities, starvation, renal illness, pneumonia, flu, and birth abnormalities, life expectancy would have increased much more.

According to Woolf, there is no need for concern over the little rise in flu and pneumonia mortality seen in 2022, which had the greatest effect on shortening life expectancy. Instead, the figures show a rebound effect: During the early stages of the pandemic, masking and physical separation contributed to a sharp decline in deaths from non-Covid viruses. He said, “It’s really getting back to normal levels now.”

Although overdose fatalities are included in the accidental injury category, which witnessed a decline, Woolf pointed out that these specific deaths have not decreased as the opioid crisis continues. Rather, he claimed that the decline was due to a decline in auto accidents, which had risen by about 7% in 2020.

Malnutrition rates are growing nationwide.

The CDC study also emphasized a worrisome rise in malnutrition-related mortality in 2022, according to experts. According to the study, 13% of the decline in total life expectancy may be attributed to these fatalities.

Malnutrition-related fatalities in the United States rose by about 2.5 times between 1999 and 2020, according to a research that was published earlier this month in the journal BMJ Medicine.

Get this image at World Life Expectancy

According to Dr. Deborah Kado, a professor of geriatric medicine in the division of primary care and population health at Stanford University’s school of medicine, both dementia and poverty have been on the increase, especially among older persons in the United States.

“More severe malnutrition can result from both cognitive decline and income loss,” the speaker said.

There are still racial differences.

In 2022, compared to the previous year, perinatal mortalityβ€”defined as stillbirths after the 28th week of pregnancy and babies in their first week of lifeβ€”rose 15% overall and was a contributing factor to the overall decline in life expectancy.

Deeply ingrained racial health inequities were highlighted by the highest rate of perinatal death among Black Americans. At least twice as much as any other race or ethnicity, it had a role in the negative impact that almost 60% of Black Americans experienced on their life expectancy.

Asian Americans have the longest life expectancy, with 78.9 years for women and 65.6 years for males. Despite these gains, American Indians and Alaska Natives still have the lowest life expectancy, approximately two decades less than Asian Americans. The main issue preventing American Indians and Alaska Natives from having longer life expectancies was unintentional accidents.

Masters cautioned that despite advancements, the United States still lags behind other countries in terms of public health advances, and this gap began even before the epidemic.

“Compared to what people want to say, the pandemic was not a health shock,” he said. “The United States distinguished itself for being quite poor in health and mortality outcomes for the 40 years preceding the pandemic.”


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