U.S. life expectancy drops nearly 2 years; SC below national average

Nation and World News

FILE – In this Wednesday, March 10, 2021 file photo, a couple walks through a park at sunset in Kansas City, Mo. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II. Worse, the decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was a staggering three years. The decrease is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials say is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Life expectancy in the United States has seen its largest drop in nearly seven decades, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

According to the final 2020 data, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. dropped from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77 years in 2020, a difference of 1.8 years. This is the largest single-year decline since World War II when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943.

Male and female life expectancy fell to the lowest it has been since 2003 and 2005, respectively. The average life expectancy at birth for males was 74.2 years in 2020, a 2.1-year decline from 76.3 years in 2019. For females, life expectancy at birth declined by 1.5 years from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020.

The CDC reports that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease. Together, those three causes accounted for nearly half of all deaths in the U.S. in 2020.

As for South Carolina, life expectancy at birth was 76.5 years in 2018, according to the most recent available CDC data. The leading cause of death that year was heart disease, but other leading causes included cancer, accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and stroke.

Estimates from the first three months of 2021 indicate the COVID-19 death rate in South Carolina is 196.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Updated COVID-19 numbers and information for South Carolina can be found on the SCDHEC dashboard.

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