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Life Expectancy in the Covid Era

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Director at Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative
Joel M. Zinberg, M.D., J.D. is the Director of the Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative at Paragon Health Institute, and a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A native New Yorker, he recently completed two years as General Counsel and Senior Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers in the Executive Office of the President.

New life-expectancy estimates are out for 2021, and they paint a grim picture: Life expectancy declined in 2021 by 0.9 years to 76.1 years, the lowest it has been since 1996. This followed a decline in 2020 leading to an overall decrease in life expectancy between 2019 and 2021 of 2.7 years for the total population. Covid-19 was responsible for 50 percent of the 2021 longevity decline. A grab bag of other causes of death was responsible for the balance with unintentional injuries being the most common (16 percent).

But closer examination of the tables from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reveals an interesting fact. While Hispanics and blacks both had substantially greater life expectancy losses than whites during 2020, in 2021 the situation was reversed. The white population saw a one-year decline in life expectancy while blacks saw a 0.7 year drop and Hispanics saw a 0.2 year drop.

Many public-health experts and media pundits blamed the disproportionate losses suffered by people of color in 2020 on “structural inequalities” and “systemic racism.”

The full article can be found in National Review.

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