No one gets out of this life alive. Still, Americans have been living longer each year, on average. We’ve been able to take that largely for granted.
This is no thanks to all these post-Valentines candy sales. It is thanks to advances in medical care, medicines, attention to healthier eating and personal fitness.
However, there’s always a catch. This time the catch is Covid-19.
The statistics arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just announced that during just the first half of last year Americans’ average life expectancy dropped by a full year.
Life expectancy for the U.S. population as a whole is now 77.8 years, about the same as it was 15 years ago. It also means that 78-year-old Joe Biden is, on average, running on Overtime. It’s even worse for Nancy Pelosi, who turns 81 next month.
You can calculate your own life expectancy here. I just did and the good news is I’ve got another good 10 years. The bad news is I was counting on 11.
There was a dip in U.S. life expectancy during the height of the opioid epidemic — 2014 to 2017 — when it dropped by four months.
Otherwise, it’s been growing slowly for most of the last several decades.
The 12-month drop in just six months coincided with some of the Covid-19 pandemic, which really got going in the U.S. by last March. Since then, the death of almost a half-million Americans has been attributed at least in part to the deadly virus.
The last six months of 2020 were full-blown pandemic. So, the drop could well be larger.
“A year of life expectancy lost doesn’t really give you a true sense of how serious this has been,” said Eileen Crimmins, an expert on mortality. “Millions of life years were actually lost.”
Another blot on misbegotten 2020.