US life expectancy crashes to lowest level since 1996 amid fentanyl epidemic and Covid hangover
- Life expectancy at birth is now 76.4 years, its lowest in 25 years when it was 76.1
- Covid was the third-leading cause of deaths in 2021 for the second year in a row
- Unintentional injuries, including drug overdoses, was the fourth-leading cause
US life expectancy has crashed to its lowest level since 1996 — to just 76.4 years — because of the fentanyl epidemic and Covid crisis, official data has revealed.
Data released today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that life expectancy fell for the second consecutive year in 2021, down from 78.8 years in 2019 and 77.0 years in 2020.
It is now at its lowest level since 1996, when it was 76.1 years.
Covid was the third-leading cause of death for the second year in a row in 2021, and a five-fold rise in drug overdose deaths over the past decade has also contributed to the decline.
Life expectancy at birth for both sexes in 2021 is 76.4 years — its lowest level since 1996 when it was 76.1 years. Life expectancy for men has dropped more than women between 2021 and 2020 — male life expectancy by 0.7 years and females by 0.6
A total of 3,464,231 deaths were registered in the US in 2021. The 10 leading causes of death accounted for 74.5 percent of all US deaths in 2021. Unintentional injuries includes drug overdoses
Teen deaths from overdosing on fentanyl (grey line) have tripled since the Covid pandemic began (dotted line between 2019 and 2020). Scientists say this may be linked to the synthetic opioid being mixed with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin
The official death toll due to Covid-19 per the CDC is nearly 1.1 million, but that does not include associated deaths such as fatal overdoses during lockdowns
Its highest point was 78.9 years in 2014. Before the pandemic, in 2019, life expectancy was nearing that level again.
The Covid crisis caused the biggest yearly drop in life expectancy in 2020 since World War II.
Heart disease was still the top causes of US deaths, followed by cancer. Covid caused over 4 million deaths in 2021 — up almost 20 percent from the 350,831 deaths it racked up in the first year of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, illicit versions of fentanyl have replaced heroin in many markets, fueling the increase in overdose deaths.
In the CDC’s report, drug overdoses are included in unintentional injuries — which has been the fourth leading cause of death in the past two years.
Drug overdose deaths among US teens doubled from 2019 to 2021 — even as the use of illicit substances declined. Deaths caused by fentanyl alone increased 182 percent.
Life expectancy dropped less among black people than white people in 2021, partly reflecting the higher toll of Covid on minorities at the start of the pandemic.