The decline was most pronounced for African Americans
Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped by a full year in the first half of 2020, when a coronavirus pandemic caused the first wave of deaths, health officials said.
Racial minorities were the hardest hit. Black Americans, for example, saw their life expectancy drop by three years and Hispanics by nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Thursday.
“It’s a huge drop,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees these statistics at the CDC. – The last time there was such a decline was during World War II, in the 1940s.”
Life expectancy refers to the estimated average life expectancy of an infant born today. It was 77.8 years in the first half of last year, a year short of 78.8 years in 2019. It was 75.1 years for men and 80.5 years for women.
Among racial groups, Hispanics in the U.S. had and still have the longest life expectancy. The life expectancy of black Americans is six years less than that of whites. The gap between these groups has been shrinking since 1993 but widened again last year.
Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy for black Americans declined by 2.7 years to 72 years. It declined by 1.9 years for Hispanics, to 79.9 years, and by 0.8 years for whites, to 78 years.
The preliminary report does not analyze trends for Asian Americans and Native Americans.