In 2020, life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population was 77.3 years, a drop of 1.5 years from 78.8 in 2019, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It was the largest one-year decline since World War II.
Life expectancy at birth for males was 74.5 years in 2020, a decrease of 1.8 years from 76.3 years in 2019. For females, life expectancy declined to 80.2 years, falling 1.2 years from 81.4 years in 2019.
“The difference in life expectancy between the sexes was 5.7 years in 2020, increasing from 5.1 in 2019,” the July report from the center said. “Between 2000 and 2010, the difference in life expectancy between the sexes narrowed from 5.2 years to a low of 4.8 years and then gradually increased to 5.1 in 2019.”
The drop was worse for Black and Hispanic Americans: three years. It was the greatest one-year decline in Black life expectancy since the Great Depression.
The decline in life expectancy in the United States was primarily due to increases in deaths from COVID-19 (73.8% of the decline), unintentional injuries (11.2%), homicide (3.1%), diabetes (2.5%) and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (2.3%). Drug overdoses in 2020 — over 93,000, a record — accounted for more than a third of the unintentional injuries.
The National Center for Health Statistics is part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.