University study shows COVID-19 took a year off Americans’ lifespans; Blacks and Latinos hit hardest

We often joke a stressful event “took a year off my life,” but in the case of 2020 and COVID-19, it’s no joke — some experts say it literally did.

Researchers from USC and Princeton say the COVID-19 pandemic subtracted a year from the average American lifespan, and dropped life expectancy even further for Blacks and Latinos. 

With COVID being blamed for more than 400,000 American deaths so far, the researchers predict that the average life expectancy in this country will drop by 1.13 years to 77.48 years, the lowest it’s been since 2003. 

“For Blacks…life expectancy would shorten by 2.10 years to 72.78 years, and for Latinos, by 3.05 years to 78.77 years,” a university release notes.

The scientists were so struck by how hard the disease hit the Latino community that they’ve dubbed it the “Latino Paradox” because on average, Latinos live longer than whites. 

“The huge decline in life expectancy for Latinos is especially shocking given that Latinos have lower rates than the white and Black populations of most chronic conditions that are risk factors for COVID-19,” study co-author Noreen Goldman from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.  “The generally good health of Latinos prior to the pandemic, which should have protected them from COVID-19, has laid bare the risks associated with social and economic disadvantage.”

Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, adds, “The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effect on the life expectancy of Black and Latino Americans likely has to do with their greater exposure through their workplace or extended family contacts [and] receiving poorer health care, leading to more infections and worse outcomes.”