New federal data show that life expectancy in the United States has fallen to its lowest level in 26 years.
Last week, The National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that the death rate jumped 5.3% - from 835.4 per 100,000 people to 879.7 per 100,000 in 2021.
Life expectancy decreased in 2021 to 76.4 years for the second consecutive year, down from 77 years in 2020, the lowest number reported since 1996.
Although the decrease of 0.6 years is not insignificant, it is smaller than the increase of 1.8 years between 2019 and 2020.
COVID-19 and drug overdose deaths were primarily responsible for the drop, according to the authors.
There was roughly the same decrease in life expectancy for men and women, with men seeing a decline of 0.7 years from 74.2 years in 2020 to 73.5 years in 2021, while women saw a decrease of 0.6 years from 79.9 years in 2020 to 79.3 years.
Death rates increased for almost all racial and ethnic groups. With non-significantly different rates for Asian men and women, decreases were only observed for Hispanic and Black men.
From 2020 to 2021, the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. remained unchanged. Heart disease remained the leading cause, followed by cancer and COVID-19.
Influenza and pneumonia dropped out of the top 10, while chronic liver disease and cirrhosis rose to ninth.
The death rate increased for eight of the top ten causes, but COVID-19 saw the most significant increase.
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