The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced life expectancy in the United States, with Black and Latinx Americans disproportionally impacted, research conducted by the University of Southern California and Princeton University finds.
Based on estimates of deaths under four scenarios — one in which the pandemic had not occurred and three that include COVID-19 mortality projections — by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the report, Reductions in 2020 US life expectancy due to COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on the Black and Latino populations, (6 pages, PDF), found that as a result of pandemic deaths in 2020, Americans’ overall life expectancy will fall 1.13 years, to 77.48 years — the single largest decline in at least forty years and the lowest life expectancy since 2003.
The study also indicates significant disparities by race, with researchers projecting that the life expectancy of African Americans will fall 2.1 years, to 72.78 years; by 3.05 years, to 78.77 years, for Latinx individuals; and by 0.68 years, to 77.84 years, for white Americans.
“While the arrival of effective vaccines is hopeful, the U.S. is currently experiencing more daily COVID-19 deaths than at any other point in the pandemic,” said Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and co-author of the report. “Because of that, and because we expect there will be long-term health and economic effects that may result in worse mortality for many years to come, we expect there will be lingering effects on life expectancy in 2021. That said, no cohort may ever experience a reduction in life expectancy of the magnitude attributed to COVID-19 in 2020.”