In 2022, the United States witnessed a significant improvement in life expectancy, with newly borns projected to live an average of 77.5 years. This figure presents a recovery from the preceding two years when life expectancy witnessed a downward trend, largely due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the encouraging increase, the life expectancy for 2022 still falls short of the pre-pandemic level of 78.8 years for babies born in 2019. These statistics are based on data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Rebounding From Historic Drops
The rise in life expectancy in 2022 represents an increase of 1.1 years over the 2021 figures. However, it only compensates for less than 50% of the 2.4 years of life lost during the first two years of the pandemic. The COVID-19 virus, once the third leading cause of death, dropped to the fourth leading cause of death in 2022, contributing significantly to the increase in life expectancy.
Disparities in Life Expectancy
Despite the general rise, disparities persist, with American Indian/Alaskan Native and Black populations consistently having lower life expectancies than the White population. These gaps were exacerbated during the pandemic and remain quite large, despite minor improvements. The life expectancy gap between men and women in the U.S. also widened significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CDC's recent report has prompted calls for policymakers to take measures to improve the quality of life and reduce early, preventable deaths in the U.S. The rise in life expectancy, albeit less than the pre-pandemic level, is a positive sign. However, it serves as a reminder that urgent action is needed to address the disparities in life expectancy and the long-term mortality crisis that threatens to make the U.S. an outlier in longevity among wealthy nations.