Life expectancy rates have dropped in the U.S. over the last year, driven by things like COVID-19 and drug use, but there are some places on earth that still have high expectancies.
In 2021 the rate fell, and that marked the second year in a row after it also fell in 2020.
This is the first time it’s dropped two years in a row in 100 years, according to NPR.
What is the new life expectancy in the U.S.?
For the year 2019, a person born had a life expectancy of 79 years, but in 2020 it became 77 years.
For 2021, that rate dropped to 76.1 years.
Depending on other factors, that rate is a lot lower for some Americans.
High income countries in other areas of the world have seen their life expectancy rates increase.
The hardest hit population when it comes to life expectancy are the American Indian and Alaska Native people.
The life expectancy for their population dropped by 6.6 years in 2020-2021 and is now 65.2 years.
This showcases how many members of these populations were lost to COVID-19 and how hard it is for them to access proper care due to barriers.
Their life expectancy rate is equivalent to what it was for the entire population in the 1940s.
“To see the decline over the two-year period for this population was 6.6 years was jarring,” Elizabeth Aria of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said.
The vaccine rate for the American Indian population is high, but they are 2.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalized.
In 2020, Black and Hispanic populations saw a higher drop in their rate of life expectancy compared to white Americans.
In 2021, that has switched.
For the year 2020, Hispanic Americans had a 4 year drop and Black American had a 3 year drop.
In 2021, white Americans saw a one year drop, Black Americans saw a 0.7 year drop, Hispanic Americans saw a 0.2 drop, and Asian Americans saw a 0.1 year drop.
One measurement used when looking at the drop for White Americans is the attitude toward vaccines and the pandemic in different areas of the U.S.
States are in charge of the public healthcare system, and each state handled the pandemic on its own terms.
This means states that had less restrictions or didn’t require the vaccine had a higher death rate.
Even without the pandemic, many other countries still had a higher life expectancy due to treating things like heart disease better.
John Haaga, a retired division director of the National Institute on Aging, gave his opinion to NPR.
“A lot of much poorer countries do much better than us in life expectancy,” Haaga said.
“It’s not genetics, it’s that we have been falling behind for 50 years.”
COVID-19 isn’t the only “newer” culprit for lowering the life expectancy in the U.S., drug overdoses are at record highs
According to CNN Health, the new life expectancy age of 76.1 years is the lowest it has been since 1996.
COVID-19 was responsible for half of the decline between 2020 and 2021.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing that created such a large drop.
Drug overdose deaths also hit a record high in the year 2021 with around 109,000 people dying.
Not only are there deaths from overdosing, but when people are under the influence of drugs they also obtain unintentional injuries that can cause death.
The deaths that happen are usually among younger people, causing them to miss out on many years of life.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, expressed her frustration over the unsurprising data.
“We have the science and the tools available to help us reverse this trend and reduce the number of overdose deaths in this country. But these tools are not being used effectively,” Volkow said.
Fortunately, data showed that death from the flu and pneumonia decreased, which helped to offset the major decrease.
Had that not happened, the life expectancy in America would have dropped even lower.
Which states had the highest and lowest life expectancy in the U.S.
The CDC recently released a report that compared life expectancy at the state level.
Overall, life expectancy decreased in every single state.
There is also an increased gap between states with highest and lowest average life expectancies, according to Insider.
A few major pieces of data regarding the locations in the U.S. came out of the data collected by the CDC.
First, people who live on the West Coast or in New England live longer than the rest of the U.S.
States clustered together with higher life expectancies all appear to be on the coasts and have high median household incomes.
Hawaii has the overall highest life expectancy at birth.
After Hawaii, Washington, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, Utah, and Connecticut all ended up with higher rates as well.
The majority of the states with the lowest rates were generally located in the south.
West Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Carolina and Mississippi all had the lowest rates.
There are other factors in the south that aren’t as prevalent in the north or on the coasts.
This includes higher rates of obesity and using tobacco.
There are also other factors, including poorer access to healthcare services.
Hawaii’s highest life expectancy is above the U.S. average at 80.7 years, while the lowest is in Mississippi with 71.9 years.
Globally, there are locations where people live the absolute longest
There are plenty of regions in the world where people end up living so long, people wonder what their secret is.
The cultures where people seem to live longer have more youthful health.
Most people can now live past the age of 60, which is rather new.
That expectation is likely to double by the year 2050, according to the WHO.
What are factors that could allow for longer lives?
- Relaxed lifestyles
- Active lifestyles
- Political stability
- Economic success
- Access to healthcare
- Good sanitation
- Warmer climates
- Ocean proximity
Five countries with the highest life expectancy rate
Monaco has a population of 38,695 people and the average life spans to about 89.4 years.
The country has a state funded healthcare system, healthy diet, and lifestyles with less stress that contribute to the longer lifespan.
Japan, a much more populated country with 127,171,854, has an average lifespan of 85.3 years.
Most residents can live all the way to the age of 75 with no issues or disabilities thanks to healthy diets, physical activity, and extended work years.
Studies show that when people work past their retirement years they could live longer.
Singapore has a population of 5,791,901 and an average lifespan of 85.2 years.
Data shows that early prevention and detection of chronic illnesses have helped increase the average life expectancy.
San Marino is small with a population of just 33,557 and a lifespan of 83.3 years.
This may be due to healthy diets that are made up of local and fresh food, little stress, and higher rates of employment.
Iceland is also a country with a very high lifespan of 83.1 years for its population of 337,780.
Residents of this country have a diet rich with fish, which helps with heart health.
It is believed genetically they are also benefiting.
There are various things people could do to help lengthen their lifespan, according to areas with higher life expectancies
First, be sure to have daily rituals that are stress free.
This includes naps, praying, and even happy hour.
Next, when you’re eating a meal, stop when you feel around 80% full then eat your smallest meal at night.
Data suggests that knowing why you wake up in the morning promotes happiness and health, as well as adds years onto your life.
If you’re over 100 years old, try to consume higher amounts of beans, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains with meat.
Finally, those with lots of years of life behind them have had strong bonds with their family and friends.
Samantha edits our personal finance and consumer news section. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].