Written by Eric Zuesse
The United States has experienced decreasing life-expectancy ever since 2014 (when it peaked at 78.9 years), but in the latest year that the World Bank reports, 2020 (which was the first year of the covid-19 pandemic), this decline greatly accelerated, by plunging 1.51 years (1.8 years for men, and 1.2 years for women), to 77.28 years (74.5 for men, 80.2 for women).
Liechtenstein was the worst-performing nation in 2020, declining 2.35 years.
Kazakhstan was the second-worst, declining 1.81 years.
Russia was the third-worst, declining 1.75 years.
Serbia was the fourth-worst, declining 1.71 years.
America, at -1.51 years, was the fifth-worst in the entire world.
Spain and Bulgaria were almost as bad as America, and were tied as being the sixth and seventh worst, by declining 1.50 years.
Lithuania was the eighth worst, by declining 1.35 years.
Poland was the ninth-worst, declining 1.30 years.
Romania was the tenth-worst, declining 1.25 years.
Belgium was the eleventh-worst, declining 1.20 years.
Italy was the twelfth-worst, declining 1.15 years.
Slovenia was the thirteenth-worst, declining 1.00 years.
Luxembourg was the fourteenth-worst, declining 0.90 years.
Switzerland was the fifteenth-worst, declining 0.80 years.
Oman was the 16th-worst, declining 0.72 years.
Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, and Austria were tied as being seventeenth through twentieth-worst, declining 0.70 years.
Only 39 of the 194 tabulated countries experienced a decline. All 155 other countries experienced either no change (3), or else they increased life-expectancies (152). However, amongst all countries, there was a decline of 0.02 years, because the declining countries were declining more than the increasing countries were increasing.
The very fact that life-expectancies declined, at all, is extraordinary. For example, the site ourworldindata.org says that, between the years 1800 and 2012, life-expectancies increased in all countries. And according to the U.N., which has tracked nations’ life-expectancies in five-year intervals ever since 1950, up until 2020, global life-expectancies increased from 46.96 years during the five-year period 1950-1955, to 72.28 years during the five-year period 2015-2020; and, so, life-expectancies were clearly soaring throughout that 1950-2020 period. But, it might now be over.
Here were the countries that, in the World Bank’s calculations, performed the best on boosting longevities overall:
1: Seychelles +3.19 years
2: Syria: +0.95 years
3&4 tied: Mozambique and Eswatini +0.53 years
5: Lesotho +0.50 years
6: Malawi +0.43 years
7&8 tied: Burkina Faso and Central African Republic +0.40 years
9: Mali +0.39 years
10: Djibouti +0.38 years
11&12 tied: Niger and Sierra Leone +0.37 years
12&13&14&15 tied: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, and Guinea +0.36 years
16&17 tied: New Zealand and Madagascar +0.35 years
18&19&20 tied: Bhutan, Rwanda, and Laos +0.30
Obviously, therefore, all of the 154 countries that were neither in the best 20 nor the worst 20 were little changed, somewhere between +0.30 and -0.70. The outliers were clearly outside the global norm of -0.02 years.
What might be more surprising than that these figures indicate life-expectancies were declining (slightly) in 2020, is that Patrick Heuveline, at the California Center for Population Research, headlined in Population and Development Review, on 12 March 2022, “Global and National Declines in Life Expectancy: An End-of-2021 Assessment”, and he reported that
The global life expectancy appears to have declined by 0.92 years between 2019 and 2020 [which is considerably more decline than the World Bank calculations, of -0.02 years] and by another 0.72 years between 2020 and 2021, but the decline seems to have ended during the last quarter of 2021. Uncertainty about its exact size aside, this represents the first decline in global life expectancy since 1950, the first year for which a global estimate is available from the United Nations. Annual declines in life expectancy … appear to have exceeded two years at some point before the end of 2021 in at least 50 countries. Since 1950, annual declines of that magnitude had been observed only on rare occasions, such as Cambodia in the 1970s, Rwanda in the 1990s, and possibly some sub-Saharan African nations at the peak of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic.
Furthermore, he pointed out
the possibly vast extent to which COVID-19 deaths might have been misdiagnosed or unreported in many parts of the world. Estimates of excess deaths in Central and South America suggest drastically larger reductions in life expectancy than when based on reported COVID-19 deaths, reaching 10.91 years in Peru, 7.91 years in Ecuador, 5.54 years in Mexico, 2.42 years in Brazil, and 2.26 years in Guatemala.
So: the data on which the officially reported covid-deaths were reported were extremely untrustworthy in some countries, especially countries south of the U.S. border. Countries there might have performed far worse at restraining covid-19 than was being publicly reported at the time.
Furthermore: these covid-19 data need to be interpreted with an understanding that nations with the highest median (or “average”) age had the highest death-rates from covid, and therefore the worst 2020 performances on longevity-change. Almost all of the “best-performing” nations on longevity-change were therefore ones with the lowest median age. For example, Niger has the lowest median age, 15.4 years old, and the 11th and 12th best 2020 longevity-change performance. And the worst-performing nation on 2020 longevity-change performance was Liechtenstein, where the media age is 43.2 years, which is the world’s 17th-highest median age. (#1 on that — median age — is Monaco, at 53.1 years, and Japan is #2 there, at 47.3 years; U.S. is #58 at 38.1 years, and yet had the world’s 5th-worst longevity-change performance. Seychelles is #71 at 35.4 years, but had the world’s best longevity-change performance. Syria is the 65th-lowest median-age country at 24.3 years, and yet performed the world’s second-best longevity-change in 2020, of +0.95 years. So, everything can be properly evaluated only within its relevant context.)
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