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Life expectancy rebounds after 2-year dip

U.S. life expectancy in 2022 was 77.5 years, according to new federal data, going up by 1.1 years and marking the first time the metric has risen since 2019.

From 2019 to 2021, the U.S. mortality rate fell by 2.4 years. This trend was attributed to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and record overdoses rates.

But the country now appears to be on the rebound.

A total of 3,279,857 resident deaths were recorded in the U.S. during 2022, a decrease of 184,374 from 2021. Among infants, however, 633 more deaths were recorded last year than in 2021, for a total of 20,553 deaths of children who were less than a year old.

For men, life expectancy in 2022 went up by 1.3 years, and for women it rose by 0.9 years. The difference in life expectancy for men and women shrank by 0.4, to 5.4 years.

Heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury are the top three causes of death. COVID-19 came in fourth, down from No. 3 last year; the number of deaths for which the virus was the underlying cause decreased by 55.3 percent.

The data for this data brief were sourced from the National Center for Health Statistics using death certificates from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

As the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker noted earlier this year, the pandemic erased nearly two decades worth of progress when it came to life expectancy, taking rates back to what was seen in 2004.

Compared to other high-income countries, the U.S. ranks among the lowest in terms of life expectancy for both men and women, even though it spends more on health care by a wide margin. Life expectancy rates between the U.S. and comparable nations were similar in 1980, but the metric has diverged ever since.

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