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Life expectancy declines in the United States

A photo of old, worn, gray headstones and other grave markers in a West Virginia cemetery.

Photo by Sandra Seitamaa on Unsplash

From American life expectancy is dropping — and it’s not all covid’s fault in the Washington Post:

But plotting life expectancy in the United States against that of other wealthy countries reveals three dark insights: Our life spans lag behind those of our peers; our life expectancy was already more or less flat, not growing; and most other countries bounced back from covid-19 in the second year of the pandemic, while we went into further decline.

Our life expectancy was already low compared to countries of similar income and wealth. Covid made it plunge, particularly for Black and Indigenous Americans. But our obstinancy around masking and vaccines, and — frankly, our addictions — means that our outcomes haven't improved.

We own a lot of guns. We take a lot of drugs. We drink a lot. And we drive a lot, sometimes after drinking and drugging. That means we aren't taking transit, which is a safer way to get around, especially after drinking and drugging. Nor do we walk as much as residents of other industrialized countries, which affects our cardiovascular health.

As a country, we can fix this. The article includes a half-dozen suggestions, including gun control, better food and nutrition policies, and a stronger social safety net. I'll add: create opportunities for active transportation and tight-knit communities. But as with so many of America's problems, we lack the political will to fix it.