US life expectancy decreased more for Black and Latinx people during COVID-19 pandemic

In 2020, life expectancy for Black and Latinx populations decreased substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research by the University of Southern California uncovered.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

With an alarmingly high death toll caused by the pandemic, researchers determined that 2020 saw the largest single-year decline in life expectancy in many decades, perhaps in at least 40 years.

Among those affected were mainly minority populations. Blacks and Latinx populations had their life expectancy shortened by an average of 2.10-3.05 years. The impact on Whites was much smaller in scale, with only a life expectancy decline of 0.68 years.

“Our study analyzes the effect of this exceptional number of deaths on life expectancy for the entire nation, as well as the consequences for marginalized groups,” researchers explained in their USC news release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effect on the life expectancy of Black and Latino Americans likely has to do with their greater exposure through their workplace or extended family contacts, in addition to receiving poorer health care, leading to more infections and worse outcomes.”

USC researchers concluded: “These findings underscore the need for protective behaviors and programs to reduce potential viral exposure among younger individuals who may not perceive themselves to be at high risk.”

The study was funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging.

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