- A CDC report found that US life expectancy is slowly rebounding from Covid
- The US is still recovering more slowly than other developed nations
- READ MORE: American life expectancy has crashed to its lowest level since 1996
Life expectancy rose by a mere one year in 2022 as the US exited the Covid crisis – but it means Americans still die younger than those in most of the developed world.
There was always expected to be a boost when Covid deaths flattened out, but the CDC warns that the US is trailing behind other countries.
Dr Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, said it will take ‘some time before we’re back to where we were in 2019, before the pandemic.’
A report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) showed that life expectancy in 2022 rose to 77.5 years, a full-year increase from a historically low 76.4 in 2021
Though the US is recovering from a surge in Covid deaths, the country still ranks far below other developed nations. Even taking into account the recent increase in life expectancy, nations like Japan, France, and Sweden rank far higher
The agency said that more than 84 percent of the jump was from a dip in Covid deaths.
In 2021, the virus was the third leading cause of death in the country, behind heart disease and cancer – which continue to hold top spots as the most common causes of death.
Increases in suicides and homicides, plus a five-fold increase in drug overdose deaths over the past decade – fueled by a rise in fentanyl contamination – have also contributed to the decline.
According to the latest CDC data, life expectancy increased the most for American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanic natives, from 65.6 to 67.9. The Hispanic population was close behind, with an increase of 2.2 years from 77.8 to 80.
Life expectancy remained longer for women. In 2020, women lived six years longer than men, the largest gap since 1996. In 2022, the difference narrowed to 5.4 years, down from 5.8 years in 2021.
‘There were positive outcomes all around…all the groups by race and sex experienced increases in life expectancy,’ Dr Arias said.
The CDC said that more than 84 percent of the jump in life expectancy was from a dip in Covid deaths
According to the latest CDC data, life expectancy increased the most for American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanic natives, from 65.6 to 67.9. The Hispanic population was close behind, with an increase of 2.2 years from 77.8 to 80
However, the US continues to lag behind other developed nations.
Nonprofit KFF compared US life expectancy data from 1980 to 2021 to 11 other countries. The analysis found that while figures gradually increased among the US and its peer nations up until the Covid pandemic, the US was slower to bounce back.
However, CDC data shows that in 2021, US life expectancy dropped to 76.4 years, its lowest since 1996. This is a 2.4-year decrease from 78.8 years in 2019, and a 0.6-year decline from 2020.
‘This increase does not fully offset the loss of 2.4 years of life expectancy between 2019 and 2021 that resulted mostly from increases in excess deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the CDC report states.
In comparable countries, the average life expectancy was 82.3 years in 2021, down 0.3 years from 2019 and up 0.2 years from 2020.
A 2023 report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) compared life expectancy and a series of other health metrics in 48 developed countries for 2019 through 2022.
The above shows the percentages of causes of death around the world. Diseases of the circulatory system were responsible for 28 percent of deaths worldwide, and cancers made up 21 percent. Covid accounted for seven percent of deaths
America’s life expectancy of 76.4 put it in 34th place – 15th from the bottom – and far short of the OECD average of 80.3 years.
Even if the CDC’s new data is applied to the OECD rankings, the US would place 20th, directly behind China.
The report attributed America’s low life expectancy to obesity rates, heart disease, alcohol consumption, smoking and diabetes. While previous similar reports have attributed excess deaths to fentanyl and gun violence.
The report found the US fell behind countries plagued with crime and violence, such as Colombia, which has never topped the US in the OEDC’s reports since it began being included in 2015.
The South American country hosts an array of criminal groups and gangs and is among the three largest cocaine-producing countries in the world. An estimated 24,000 combatants are present in the country as part of armed groups and organized crime.
In the US, of the causes of death identified in 2021, diseases of the circulatory system killed the most people, followed by cancers and Covid-19.
This report is not the only recent data to reveal the dire situation in America.
Earlier this year, it was revealed the US fell among the top 10 countries with the highest mortality scores for certain non-communicable diseases.
Researchers from the life insurance firm William Russell analyzed data on death rates from six common non-communicable diseases – cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease and kidney disease.
America’s poor position was blamed on a combination of high obesity rates — raising the risk of multiple diseases — and previously higher smoking rates.
A second separate report in September also exposed the grim situation of life and death in America when it was determined the US could avoid 1million deaths per year if mortality rates in the country were on par with those in other rich countries.
Researchers looked at the rate of all-cause mortality per population size since the 1930s in nearly two dozen peer nations, including the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia and 17 European countries.
They found despite the US being the richest nation, it has suffered more deaths per capita than any of the 21 other nations since around 1980.
The study noted the opioid and fentanyl epidemic, gun violence, and obesity-related deaths, which were all exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, as the reason America is an outlier.
Steffie Woolhandler, senior author of the September study and professor at the School of Urban Public Health at Hunter College, also blamed America’s healthcare system, insurers, corporate greed and politicians for the avoidable deaths the US has experienced.
Woolhandler said: ‘We waste hundreds of billions each year on health insurers’ profits and paperwork, while tens of millions can’t afford medical care, healthy food, or a decent place to live.
‘Americans die younger than their counterparts elsewhere because when corporate profits conflict with health, our politicians side with the corporations,’ she added.