US Life Expectancy Has Biggest Drop Since WW2

In the first half of 2020, life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population was 77.8 years, declining by 1.0 year from 78.8 in 2019 according to the CDC. There has not been a full-year drop in life expectancy in the US since WW2. The pandemic still continues so there has been a continuing drop in life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth for males was 75.1 years in the first half of 2020, representing a decline of 1.2 years from 76.3 years in 2019. For females, life expectancy declined to 80.5 years, decreasing 0.9 year from 81.4 years in 2019.

The spanish flu of 1918 caused a life expectancy decline of 11.8 years from 1917 to 1918. It brought average life spans down to 39 years. But it fully rebounded the following year as deaths eased.

The CDC report is only up to mid-2020, so the final impact for 2020 and for 2021 will be higher. It could be a 2 to 4 year drop overall. We will not know until the pandemic and virus variants are overcome or managed below the level of flu. Another study up to October, 2020 when total US COVID deaths were 210,000 indicated a life expectancy drop of 1.18 years. there has now been another 320,000 deaths and at least 100,000 to 500,000 more expected for 2021.

Written By Brian Wang,