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U.S. Life Expectancy Falls In Biggest Drop Since World War II

Data shows the impact of the coronavirus, but also more broadly deaths from heart disease, cancer, and other severe health conditions.
February 24, 2021

According to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provisional life expectancy in the first half of 2020 was at its lowest level since 2006 at 77.8 years, down one year from 78.8 in 2019. For males the average life expectancy was 75.1 years, and for females, who tend to have higher life expectancies, it was 80.5 years, a slight drop from the previous year. Racial minorities suffered the biggest impact from January through June 2020, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics losing nearly two years.

Robert Anderson, who oversees the data for the CDC, says, “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.” Health experts say the data shows the impact of the coronavirus, but also more broadly deaths from heart disease, cancer, and other severe health conditions.

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