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Life Expectancy in the US Dropped By Nearly Two Years From 2019 to 2020

Life expectancy in the United States dropped by nearly two years from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics and its Division of Vital Statistics.

The national average life expectancy at birth was 77 years for the total US population in 2020 — a decrease of 1.8 years from 78.8 years in 2019.

According to a new National Vital Statistics report, life expectancy declined during this time period for all 50 states and D.C., from 0.2 years for Hawaii to 3.0 years for New York.

The researchers found that in 2020, Hawaii had the highest life expectancy at birth, 80.7 years, and Mississippi had the lowest, 71.9 years. West Virginia had the second lowest, with 72.8 years.

“The declines ranged from 0.2 to 3.0 years,” the report says. “The states with the greatest decreases in life expectancy at birth from 2019 to 2020 included those in the Southwest and U.S.–Mexico border area (Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas), Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and D.C.”

On the other side, “New England (except for Connecticut), as well as Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii experienced the lowest declines in life expectancy at birth.”

The report attributes the sharp declines in some states to the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in drug overdose deaths.

“Overall, life expectancy in the United States declined by 1.8 years from 2019 to 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in unintentional injuries (mainly drug overdose deaths),” the report states.

According to a report on Mortality in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for males, life expectancy decreased 2.1 years from 76.3 in 2019 to 74.2 in 2020. For females, life expectancy decreased 1.5 years from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020.

“Of the 10 leading causes of death in 2020, nine remained the same as in 2019, although five causes exchanged ranks. Heart disease was the leading cause followed by cancer. COVID-19, a new cause of death in 2020, was the third leading cause,” the report said.

The report continued, “of the remaining leading causes in 2020 (unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease), five causes changed ranks from 2019. Unintentional injuries, the 3rd leading cause in 2019, became the 4th leading cause in 2020. Chronic lower respiratory diseases, the 4th leading cause in 2019, became the 6th. Alzheimer disease, the 6th leading cause in 2019, became the 7th. Diabetes, the 7th leading cause in 2019, became the 8th. Kidney disease, the 8th leading cause in 2019, became the 10th leading cause in 2020. Stroke, and influenza and pneumonia, remained the 5th and 9th leading causes, respectively.”

Suicide was dropped from the list of the ten leading causes of death in 2020.

In 2020, a total of 3,383,729 deaths were registered in the United States — 528,891 more -than in 2019.

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