Declining US Citizen’s Life Expectancy
Lifted from notes by One handed economist David Zetland comes with this reminder about US life expectancy dropping. David goes further and gives the reasons for decreasing Life Expectancy.
America, my increasingly ex-country, has lower life expectancy than 21 “peer” countries. This decline being due to a combination of death from Covid, cars, guns, and lifestyle.
The first fact about Covid was sadly unsurprising:
The coronavirus pandemic killed so many people that U.S. life expectancy fell from roughly 79 in 2019 to 76 in 2021—the largest two-year decline in nearly a century. The drop was sharpest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, whose life expectancy fell to 65, close to the national average during World War II.
The second fact was perhaps more alarming:
The U.S. fared worse in life expectancy than other high-income countries. While most of the developed world saw conditions improve in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans died of COVID after the introduction of the vaccines than before their invention.
Some of the most immediate causes of America’s high death rate are guns, drugs, and cars.
- The U.S. has more guns and gun violence than any other rich country.
- more drug-overdose deaths than any other high-income country—both overall and on a per capita basis. Even before the pandemic, life expectancy in the U.S. declined for consecutive years in 2015 and 2016, largely because of the opioid epidemic and drug overdoses, and
- a higher death rate from car related road accidents than Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the European Union. Even on a per-miles-driven basis, the U.S. still has a higher death rate than much of Europe.
(America’s rank, at 54th in the world for life Expectancy in 2020, is likely to fall further, due to ongoing deterioration.) At some point, it may be useful for politicians to pay attention to saving their voters’ lives. Remember how Russian life expectancy dropped by around 5 years between 1990 and 1992?
“Changes in Life Expectancy between 2019 and 2021 in the United States and 21 Peer Countries,” (medrxiv.org), Ryan K. Masters, Laudan Y. Aron, Steven H. Woolf,
“America Is a Rich Death Trap” – The Atlantic, Derek Thompson
“List of countries by life expectancy” – Wikipedia
“Health in Russia” – Wikipedia
January 15, 2018
Life Expectancy at Birth for United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and United Kingdom, 2007-2020
January 30, 2018
Infant Mortality Rate for United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and United Kingdom, 2007-2020
June 1, 2022
Changes in Life Expectancy Between 2019 and 2021 in the United States and 21 Peer Countries
By Ryan K. Masters, Laudan Y. Aron and Steven H. Woolf
BACKGROUND Prior studies reported large decreases in US life expectancy during 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately affecting Hispanic and Black populations and vastly exceeding the average change in life expectancy in other high-income countries. Life expectancy estimates for 2021 have not been reported. * This study estimated changes in life expectancy during 2019-2021 in the US population, in US racial/ethnic groups, and in 21 peer countries. The study compared outcomes across five US racial/ethnic groups and is the first to estimate changes in life expectancy during the pandemic in non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and Asian populations.
METHODS US and peer country death data for 2019-2021 were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Human Mortality Database, and overseas statistical agencies. The 21 peer countries included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Life expectancy was calculated for 2019 and 2020 and estimated for 2021 using a previously validated modeling method.
RESULTS US life expectancy decreased from 78.85 years in 2019 to 76.98 years in 2020 and 76.44 years in 2021, a net loss of 2.41 years. In contrast, peer countries averaged a smaller decrease in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 (0.55 years) and a 0.26-year increase between 2020 and 2021, widening the gap in life expectancy between the United States and peer countries to more than five years. The decrease in US life expectancy was highly racialized: whereas the largest decreases in 2020 occurred among non-Hispanic (NH) American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, NH Black, and NH Asian populations, in 2021 the largest decreases occurred in the NH White population.
DISCUSSION The US mortality experience during 2020 and 2021 was more severe than in peer countries, deepening a US disadvantage in health and survival that has been building for decades. Over the two-year period between 2019 and 2021, US NH American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, and NH Black populations experienced the largest losses in life expectancy, reflecting the ongoing legacy of systemic racism as well as inadequacies in the US handling of the pandemic. The crossover in racialized outcomes between 2020 and 2021, in which the NH White population experienced the largest decreases, likely has multiple explanations.
September 18, 2022
Cases ( 97,509,436)
Deaths ( 1,078,663)
Deaths per million ( 3,222)
Cases ( 248,179)
Deaths ( 5,226)
Deaths per million ( 3.6)
January 15, 2018
Life Expectancy at Birth for United States and Cuba, 2000-2020
January 30, 2018
Infant Mortality Rate for United States and Cuba, 2000-2020
The rest of the world is probably somewhat relieved that Americans are killing each other rather than killing them! Another major factor for US mortality is the privatized and rapacious health care system: most expensive in the world and the worst in the developed world.