Life expectancy in the United States declined by almost two years to 76.9 years between 2018 and 2020, the largest drop since World War II, according to a new study by a Virginia Commonwealth University professor.
Latino and Black communities have suffered the worst. The average life expectancy for Hispanics in the U.S. decreased nearly four years and for Black people dropped 3.25 years. The racial disparities seen in the U.S. were 15 to 18 times larger than other countries, according to the study.
Stephen Woolf, the VCU professor who authored the study, said the data on life expectancy for people of color in the U.S. was “jolting.”
“It’s a big setback because, for many years, the U.S. had been making progress in closing the Black-white mortality gap,” Woolf said. “And Hispanic Americans, for many years, enjoyed higher life expectancies than whites, but that advantage was almost completely erased by COVID-19.”
For Black men, life expectancy reached its lowest level since 1998.
The U.S. also witnessed a much larger decrease in life expectancy between 2018 and 2020 than other high-income nations, Woolf wrote in the BMJ, a journal published by the British Medical Association.
On average, U.S. residents live almost five years less than peer countries.