ATLANTA, Georgia: Life expectancy in the United States fell by 18 months in 2020 to 77.3 years.
This is the lowest level since 2003, and was attributed to deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a U.S. health agency said on Wednesday.
In releasing the statistics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that this is the largest one-year decline since World War II, when life expectancy dropped 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943.
"Life expectancy has been increasing gradually every year for the past several decades," Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, told Reuters. "The decline between 2019 and 2020 was so large that it took us back to the levels in 2003. Sort of like we lost a decade."
Also, drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020, the CDC reported.
The CDC report is based on mortality data for January through December 2020.
Additionally, racial, gender and ethnic differences worsened in 2020, the report said. Life expectancy for Blacks fell by 2.9 years to 71.8 in 2020, and for Hispanic males it dropped 3.7 years to 75.3, the largest decline of any group.