Intended for healthcare professionals


US life expectancy recovered slowly from pandemic in 2022, while Canada’s fell further

BMJ 2023; 383 doi: (Published 01 December 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;383:p2846
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

US life expectancy in 2022 was more than a year longer than in 2021, new provisional figures from the Centers for Disease Control show, but the expected post-pandemic rebound was smaller than that seen in European nations, making up less than half of the ground lost since 2019.1

A US citizen born in 2022 could expect to live 77.5 years if current death rates persisted, up from 76.4 in 2021, when life expectancy was the lowest since 1996. But last year’s rebound of 1.1 years still meant life expectancy among Americans was 1.3 years less than in 2019.

Numbers of overdose deaths and homicides, which have driven US life expectancy downwards in recent years, both fell in 2022, as did heart disease and cancer deaths. But the retreat of covid-19 drove most of the gain in life expectancy. SARS-CoV-2 claimed 460 000 lives in 2021 and 267 000 in 2022.

Influenza advanced as covid retreated and, with pneumonia, was the biggest factor holding down life expectancy. Close behind was rising perinatal mortality. More deaths from kidney disease and congenital malformations also cut significantly from the final average life expectancy.

Few countries have published their 2022 life expectancy data yet, but Belgium, Denmark, and Norway have all recovered …

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