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US Life Expectancy Sees Biggest Two-Year Decline in a Century

  • Life expectancy fell almost a year, to 76.1, from 2020 to 2021
  • Covid-19 pandemic and drug overdoses key death drivers

US life expectancy extended its decline from 2020 into 2021, the country’s largest two-year drop in a century, as Covid-19 and the epidemic of opioid overdoses took their toll on the population.

Overall life expectancy at birth declined by almost 3 years from 2019 to 2021 to 76.1 years, the lowest level since 1996, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Prospects were bleakest for Native American people, whose life expectancy plunged by 6.6 years to 65.2 years in 2021, matching the level of the total US population in 1944.