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CDC: U.S. life expectancy rebounds after two years of decline during pandemic

U.S. life expectancy rose in 2022 after two years of decline brought on by COVID-19 but failed to return to pre-pandemic levels. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
U.S. life expectancy rose in 2022 after two years of decline brought on by COVID-19 but failed to return to pre-pandemic levels. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Life expectancy in the United States saw an upturn between 2021 and 2022 after two years of decline, according to annual mortality data released on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy -- which measures the average number of years a person is expected to live from birth -- increased from 76.4 years in 2021 to 77.5 years in 2022, according to estimates from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

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Life expectancy inched up 1.44%, a modest gain of 1.1 years of life overall, but was still seen as a positive turn after life expectancy had previously declined to its lowest level in more than 25 years.

U.S. life expectancy was 78.8 years in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll and shortened average life expectancy by more than two years during a devastating period of mortality across the nation.

However, the rise fell short of fully offsetting the 2.4 years of life expectancy that was lost between 2019 to 2021 after deaths increased exponentially during the global health emergency.

The report credited this year's increase in life expectancy to lower mortality rates following the global health crisis that claimed the lives of 460,000 Americans in 2021 and another 244,000 in 2022, according to CDC data.

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The findings cited a smaller number of deaths related to heart disease, cancer, accidents and homicides, contributing to longer average life expectancy over the previous two years.

Over the same time, deaths increased from flu, pneumonia, malnutrition, kidney disease, prenatal conditions and congenital defects, the CDC said.

The nation's foremost public health agency drew its conclusions by analyzing provisional mortality data for 2022, which was compared to 2021 data from the National Vital Statistics System.

The report revealed variations in life expectancy between sexes, although there were increases in longevity for men and women between 2021 and 2022.

Men, on average, now live 74.8 years, marking a gain of 1.3 years, and women to 80.2 years, an increase of 0.9 years. The report noted that this leaves a gap of 5.4 years between the two sexes, which was down from 5.8 the year before.

The study also revealed a life expectancy gap of around 4.8 years between men and women in the decade from 2000 and 2010. Just a decade later, in 2020 and 2021, the gap soared to a 25-year high, while recalling the divide of 6 years recorded back in 1996.

Life expectancy improved across the board for all racial and ethnic demographics in the United States, with gains of 2.3 years for Native Americans and other indigenous populations; 2.2 years for Hispanics; 1.6 years for Blacks; 1 year for Asians; and 0.8 years for Whites, the report said.

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Among all the ethnic groups, American Indians and Native Alaskans had the lowest life expectancy at 67.9 years, while Asians boasted the highest life expectancy at 84.5 years, according to the report.

The report also highlighted a consistent reduction in the life expectancy gap between Black Americans and White Americans over the past three decades.

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