Life expectancy in the United States has dropped to a 26-year low, according to new federal data.
Two new reports released earlier Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that the death rate increased by 5.3% from 835.4 per 100,000 people in 2021 to 879.7 per 100,000 people.
This means that life expectancy has dropped from 77 in 2020 to 76.4 years in 2021 for the second year in a row, the lowest figure recorded since 1996.
While the 0.6-year decline is not insignificant, it is smaller than the 1.8-year decline that occurred between 2019 and 2020.
The report’s authors said the decline was mainly due to COVID-19 and drug overdose deaths.
According to the data, men and women had roughly the same decline in life expectancy; men fell from 74.2 years in 2020 to 73.5 in 2021, down 0.7 years. Meanwhile, women reached 79.3 in 2020, down 0.6 years from 79.9 years. in 2021.
Mortality rates among racial and ethnic groups increased for nearly every group. Reductions were seen only in Hispanic and Black men, with rates not significantly different for Asian men and women.
As for the 10 leading causes of death in the US, they remained largely unchanged from 2020 to 2021. Heart disease continued to be the leading cause of death in the US, followed by cancer and COVID-19, respectively.
The only change is that chronic liver disease and cirrhosis became the ninth leading cause of death, while flu and pneumonia fell from the top 10 list.
Eight of the top 10 causes increased mortality, but the biggest jump was seen in COVID-19.
The data showed that in 2020 the rate was 85 deaths per 100,000 Americans, with the rate rising to 104.1 per 100,000 in 2021.
The report cited COVID-19 as one of the main reasons for the decline in life expectancy. According to the April 2022 CDC report, there were approximately 460,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 in 2021.
Drug overdose was the other reason for the decline in life expectancy, according to the report released Thursday.
While there were 91,799 deaths or 28.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, there were 106,699 overdose deaths at a rate of 32.4 per 100,000 people in 2021.
The authors noted that drug overdose deaths now account for more than a third of all accidental deaths in the United States.
From 2020 to 2021, the rate for men increased by 14% from 39.5 to 45.1 per 100,000, and for women it increased by 15% from 17.1 to 19.6 per 100,000.
The largest percentage increase was seen in Americans aged 65 and over, with a 28% jump from 2020 to 2021.
The data showed that most of these drug deaths were due to opioids, particularly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, with a 22% increase from 2020 to 2021.