San Francisco Chronicle

U.S. life expectancy up as COVID deaths fall


Life expectancy in the United States has begun to climb again as the threat of COVID-19 has receded, increasing by more than a year between 2021 and 2022, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rise represents a slow and partial recovery for the country, which tallied more than 1.1 million COVID-19 deaths and lost 2.4 years in life expectancy between 2019 and 2021.

And an array of other conditions continued to pose grave risks to Americans’ health. Deaths from flu, pneumonia, perinatal conditions, kidney disease and birth defects all rose in 2022, the agency reported, partially offsetting the fall in COVID-19 deaths.

“We’re halfway back to what we lost,” said Eileen Crimmins, an expert on gerontolog­y and demography at the University of Southern California. “But we certainly have a very long ways to go before we get to where life expectancy should be.”

In 2022, life expectancy at birth was 77.5 years, compared with 76.4 years in 2021. A fall in COVID-19 deaths accounts for more than 80% of that increase. In 2019, before the pandemic, life expectancy at birth was 78.8. Drops in deaths from heart disease, unintentio­nal injuries ( includes traffic deaths and drug overdoses), cancer and homicide also contribute­d to the rise in life expectancy, the CDC reported.

The gains were especially pronounced among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, who were especially hard hit by COVID-19, losing 6.2 years of life expectancy between 2019 and 2021. In 2022, they regained 2.3 years of those years, although their life expectancy of 67.9 remains lower than that of other demographi­c groups. Life expectancy rose by 2.2 years for the Hispanic population and 1.6 years for Black Americans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States