These Are the Reasons American Life Expectancy Is at an All Time Low

The average life span for Americans born in 2021 is 76.4 years, the lowest it’s been in decades, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2021, the life expectancy for adults born in the United States decreased by seven months, NPR reported. That drop comes after another steep decline between 2020 and 2021. The CDC cited COVID-19 and drug overdoses — especially from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl — as the two main factors driving last year’s decrease.

Since it hit the U.S. in early 2020, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1 million Americans. Last year alone, it caused nearly 417,000 deaths — and accounted for about 60 percent of the nation’s plummeting life expectancy, even after the COVID-19 vaccine was introduced.

The CDC recorded more than 106,000 deaths from drug overdoses in 2021, a devastating testament to America’s ongoing mental health crisis. Deaths by suicide and liver disease caused by alcohol abuse also increased.

“It’s not a good year for the data, let’s put it that way,” Kenneth Kochanek, a CDC statistician, told NPR.

The data did offer a few bright spots: Death rates among Hispanic and Black men actually decreased in 2021. Diseases like the Alzheimer’s, the flu, and pneumonia were also responsible for fewer deaths last year, although that could be a byproduct of COVID-19 hitting America’s elderly population very hard.

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