The outlook is most bleak for Native Americans, whose life expectancy has fallen by 6.6 years to 65.2 years in 2021, matching the level of the total U.S. population in 1944.
Life expectancy fell by 1 year for whites and 0.7 years for blacks. Life expectancy for Hispanics fell by 0.2 years to 77.6 years and for Asian Americans by 0.1 years to 83.5 years, the highest of any race, the report said.
The U.S. has the highest death toll in the world from Covid-19, with more than 1 million deaths since the outbreak began in 2020. “The spike in Covid-19 deaths is due to a lack of preparation in the early months to allocate resources effectively,” said Noreen Goldman, a professor of demography at Princeton University.
While nearly half of the decline in life expectancy in 2020-2021 can be attributed to COVID-19, another 16% is related to unintentional injuries, about half of which are overdoses of drugs such as opioids. The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 109,000 people died from substance abuse in the year ended March.
This is the second consecutive two-year decline in life expectancy for Americans in a century, the last time being between 1921 and 1923. Other reasons for the sharp drop in life expectancy over the past two years include chronic illness and suicide.