American life expectancy lags

Americans' life expectancies are declining right alongside their happiness scores, according to U.S. News & World Report

According to the most recent data from World Bank, U.S. life expectancy was 76 years in 2021. Although that number is higher than the global average of 71 years, the U.S. ranks 60th out of all nations and 30th out of the 38 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

By comparison, the top countries — Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and South Korea — all have average life expectancies of 84 years.  

A recent analysis from KFF and the Peterson Center on Healthcare found that American life expectancy is decreasing more significantly than in any other wealthy nation. U.S. life expectancy fell by 1.3 years between 2019 and 2022, versus an average drop of 0.5 years in peer countries. 

Global life expectancy declined for the second year in 2021, but COVID-19 isn't solely to blame for the U.S.' drop. The discrepancy between the U.S. and comparable countries emerged before the pandemic, Steven Woolf, MD, professor of population health and health equity at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, told U.S. News

"We saw life expectancy flatlining in the U.S. in the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Woolf said. "That was a very important warning for policymakers that something needed to be done to address the root causes, or this massive death toll the U.S. was experiencing was going to widen."

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