The COVID-19 virus was the third leading cause of death in 2020 after heart disease and cancer, claiming approximately 375,000 American lives. As a result of this pandemic, U.S. life expectancy declined by a full year-and-one-half, according to The National Center for Health Statistics. But for specific racial groups the drop in life expectancy has been more pronounced. Black and Latino or Hispanic people experienced a staggering 2.9- and 3-year downturn in life expectancy, respectively, compared to 1.2 years for white people.

Substantial changes in life expectancy have long been a bellwether for trends in the overall health of our nation. And as a general macro trend, life expectancy in the United States (and worldwide) has trended upward over the last several decades, according to a 2020 U.S. Census report. That same Census report also optimistically estimates that U.S. life expectancy will reach an all-time high of 85.6 by 2060.

Understanding life expectancy declines caused by COVID-19 provides an opportunity to spotlight racial and health disparities related to the pandemic and beyond. The pandemic exacerbated existing disparities in work, education, housing and health care. In this paper, we use a social determinants of health framework to explore some of the factors contributing to why Black and Latino or Hispanic individuals have experienced a noticeably larger decline in life expectancy over the last year.

Read the full article about Latino men life expectancy by Andre M. Perry, Ariel Gelrud Shiro, Anthony Barr, and Carl Romer at Brookings.