Is Life Expectancy Declining?


The United States has witnessed a drastic decline in the Life expectancy of its citizens over the last few years. According to the provisional state-by-state data that was provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), life expectancy in the United States has declined for the second year in a row, dropping from 79 in 2019 to 76 years of age — the worst level these average expectancy rates have been since 1996.

This drop in life expectancy comes as a rude awakening for many experts in the medical field as the U.S. has, over time, experienced a gradual increase in life expectancy. Over the previous century, we’ve gained 30 years in life expectancy, which is extraordinary and unique in human history, according to a geriatrician and director of geriatrics cognitive health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Nevertheless, humans have successfully raised their general life expectancy year after year; thus, it is distressing to observe a decline in life expectancy.

What Does the State-by-State Analysis Say?

In a report compiled by the NCHS, there was a detailed breakdown of life expectancy across each state in the United States. However, it is essential to note that the decrease differed from state to state, with some states experiencing a decrease of only 0.2 years and others experiencing a decrease of up to 3 years. The study showed that states in the West and Northeastern regions of the country had the greatest life expectancy rates. For example, Hawaii has the most incredible life expectancy rate in the United States at 80.7 years. The remaining four states in the top five with the greatest life expectancy rates are as follows: Massachusetts, California, Minnesota, and Washington. The average life expectancy in these states was between 79.1 and 79 years at the time of the survey.

On the other hand, states in the south had the lowest life expectancy rate. States such as Mississippi (71.9 years), West Virginia (72.8 years), Louisiana (73.1 years), Alabama (73.2 years), and Kentucky (73 5 years) were the states with the lowest life expectancy rate. 

You should also note that the difference in longevity between the highest and lowest-ranked states increased between 2019 and 2020. The data provided by NCHS indicated that by 2019, there was a 6.5-year difference in lifespan between the highest and lowest-ranked states, and this has now widened to an 8.8-year gap.

In conclusion, this decline has been attributed to many factors, chief amongst which are the COVID-19 pandemic and drug overdoses.