A new study released on Wednesday (June 23) estimates that the life expectancy of Americans has decreased by almost two years, with Black and Hispanic Americans (as identified within the study) facing disproportionate rates. Both communities had nearly double the decrease in life expectancy within the researched period. Studies conducted and released by the British Medical Journal measured the life expectancy from 2018 to 2020 in the United States and other wealthy countries, and the results are overwhelming. Not surprisingly, the study cites that the COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest contributor to the significant decrease.
“African Americans saw their life expectancy decrease by 3.3 years, and Hispanic Americans saw their life expectancy decrease by 3.9 years,” declared Steven Woolf, an author of the Virginia Commonwealth University of Medicine study.
The report cited a lack of access to healthcare during the pandemic for racial and ethnic groups as a leading reason for the decrease in numbers — but it wasn’t the only factor. Woolf added, “Disruptions in health care, disruptions in chronic disease management, and behavioral health crisis, where people struggling with addiction disorders or depression might not have gotten the help that they needed.”
Before the pandemic, Americans were on a steady uptick in years, starting with a 1.8-year increase in 2010 and ending in 2017 with an additional 3.11 years added to life expectancy. While the reported drop is the biggest measured in the United States since World War II, it isn’t the only country that saw a decline in life expectancy. Both Sweden and the United Kingdom saw more significant decreases. However, Norway and New Zealand saw an increase in life expectancy from 2018-2020.