U.S. Life Expectancy Ticked Up in 2022, CDC Data Finds

The death rate also declined between 2021 and 2022, and COVID-19-related fatalities sharply dropped.

A report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shows that between 2021 and 2022, Americans’ overall life expectancy increased by about a year.

Across the entire population, life expectancy in the U.S. at birth increased from 76.4 in 2021 to 77.5 in 2022.

Death rates saw a significant decline as well, with 879.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021 dropping to 798.8 in 2022 — a gradual improvement after pandemic highs. The data also showed a decrease in deaths among males in every racial and ethnic category, with American Indian and Alaskan Native male death rates showing the biggest decline.

These numbers reflect a shift from where the U.S. was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the death rate rose by 16.8% from the previous year, inverting from the continuous incline in life expectancy the U.S. had seen during the pre-pandemic years.

While death rates for adults dipped overall between 2021 and 2022, the infant mortality rate went up by 3.1%. Death rates also increased by 12% for children ages one to four and 7% for ages five to 14.

According to the report, COVID-19 dropped from being the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. to being the fourth, with accidents coming in third and heart disease and cancer ranking as the top two. The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 decreased 55.3% from 2021 to 2022, from 416,893 to 186,552.

Since 2020, many more Americans have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19, with more than 80% of people in the U.S. having received at least one shot as of May 2023.

Still, despite an overall drop in death rates, as well as an end to the global and national public health emergency last year and the lifting of public safety measures, COVID-19 remains a major concern for disabled and immunocompromised people.

The risk of long COVID also remains: According to a CDC report published last month, in 2022, almost 7% of U.S. adults reported experiencing long COVID.

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