U.S. Life Expectancy Drops 1.8 years from 2019 to 2020

The CDC death statistics for 2020 are out. The news media mostly ignored these stunning numbers. But here is a Washington Post story covering the main points. Life expectancy dropped 1.8 years, largely or entirely due to Covid-19, from 78.8 years of age as U.S. average life expectancy to 77.0 years.

* CDC data page for 2019 from Archive.org
* CDC data page for 2020 from CDC.gov

Changes for 2020 compared to 2019, in order from highest number of deaths to lowest in the top ten:

Total deaths in 2020 were 3,383,729, up from 2,854,838 in 2019, for an increase of 528,891 more deaths in one year. Deaths attributed to Covid-19 were 350,831, which means 178,060 excess deaths not DIRECTLY attributed to Covid.

Perhaps an argument could be made that the effects of Covid on society and on health care indirectly caused those excess deaths. The yearly increase from 2018 to 2019 was 15,633, which means that even setting aside Covid-19 deaths, there was an order of magnitude increase in death from 2019 to 2020, specifically an 11.39% increase in non-Covid deaths and a 33.83% increase including Covid-19. To phrase it another way, over half a million more persons died in 2020 than would be expected in any ordinary year, not counting the expected year to year increase. This exceeds the U.S. deaths attributed to World War II for the whole of the multiple year war of 419,400. We lost more U.S. persons in 2020 to Covid-19 and other non-war causes of death than for our nation in all of a major world war.

Causes of Death listed by 2020 order

#1 Heart Disease deaths, up 37,921
#2 Cancer deaths, up 2,749
#3 Covid-19 were 350,831 in 2020 and none in 2019 as far as we know.
#4 Accident deaths, up 27,915
#5 Stroke deaths, up 10,259

#6 Lung disease deaths DOWN 4,322 — this decrease is very likely due to Covid-19 causing lung injury, superseding other lung diseases. For example, a smoker who is on the verge of being diagnosed with lung disease gets Covid-19 and dies; he does not live to the point of being diagnosed with lung disease.

#7 Alzheimer’s deaths, up 12,743
#8 Diabetes deaths, up 14,541
#9 Influenza and Pneumonia deaths, up 3,761
#10 Kidney disease, up 982

#11 Suicide, DOWN by 1,532 from 2019, when it was the #10 cause of death (see below).

In 2020, there were more deaths from Stroke than Lung disease, the two swapping order from 2019 to 2020. Then the same is true for Flu/Pneumonia and Kidney disease.

Suicides in 2019 caused 47,511 deaths, as the #10 cause in 2019. But in 2020, suicides were the #11 cause of death (not listed by CDC in top 10). Suicides were 45,979 total in 2020, a crude rate of 14.0 per 100,000. That is a decrease of 1,532 deaths. Data from CDC Wonder (database query system).

Other insights from the 2020 and 2019 CDC data: infant mortality is down from 5.58 to 5.42 deaths per 1,000 live births. Population for 2020, the figure used in CDC data in any case, is 329,484,123 persons. With 3,383,729 deaths in 2020 against that population, 1.027% of the population died in that year. Death rate in 2019 was 869.7 deaths per 100,000 population, which increased to 1,027.0 deaths per 100,000 population in 2020.

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