In 2021, the US life expectancy fell for the second year in a row.

A government report coming out on Wednesday says that in 2021, the U.S. life expectancy will drop for the second year in a row, by almost a year from 2020.

Estimates show that the COVID-19 epidemic has cut the average life expectancy of Americans by almost three years in the first two years. The last time there was a drop like this, it was during World War II in the early 1940s.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that COVID-19 was responsible for about half of the drop in 2021. This was the year that vaccines became more widely available, but new coronavirus variations caused waves of hospitalizations and deaths. Drug overdoses, heart disease, suicide, and chronic liver disease, which have been going on for a long time, are also contributing to the decline.

Things are not going well. Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania, says that it was bad before, but now it’s even worse.

Life expectancy is a rough estimate of how long a baby born in a certain year might expect to live based on the death rates of the time. Robert Hummer, a researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies how people’s health changes over time, says that it is “the most basic sign of health in this country.”

Before the pandemic, the long-term rise in life expectancy in the U.S. stopped.

In 2019, it had been around for 78 years and 10 months. Last year, it dropped to almost 76 years and 1 month.

The last time that low point was reached was in 1996.

Some racial groups did worse because of the pandemic, and some gaps got bigger. For example, since the start of the epidemic, the average life expectancy of American Indian and Alaska Native people has dropped by more than 6 1/2 years and is now at 65 years. Asian Americans now have a life expectancy of 83 and a half years, which is about two years less than what it was in the same time period.

Experts say that a lack of access to high-quality health care, lower rates of vaccination, and a higher number of people working in lower-paying jobs that forced them to keep working when the pandemic was at its worst are just a few of the many possible reasons for these differences.

The new report was made based on some preliminary data. Estimates of how long people will live can be changed as new information and research comes out. For example, the CDC once said that life expectancy would drop by 1 year and 6 months in 2020. But it turned out to be about a year and a half and a half after more death reports and analyses came in.

But CDC officials say it’s likely that the decreases in 2020 and 2021 will be the first two years in a row that life expectancy in the country goes down since the early 1960s.

The research shows that progress in the fight against suicide seems to be going backwards.

From the beginning of the 2000s until 2018, there were more suicides in the United States. But they went down a little in 2019 and a lot in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Experts have wondered if this could have been related to a pattern in which people help each other in the early stages of wars and major national disasters.

Even though it didn’t go into much detail, the new analysis said that suicide was a reason why life expectancy in 2021 was going down. A public CDC database has preliminary numbers that show there were about 2,000 more suicides in the US last year, bringing the total to 48,000. The number of suicides in the U.S. also went up, from 13.5 per 100,000 to 14.1 per 100,000, which is about the same as in 2018.

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