As life expectancy declines in the United States, life expectancy in China has continued its steady climb, potentially surpassing the U.S., according to certain recent data sets.
The U.S.’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently estimated that life expectancy at birth had fallen nearly a year to 76.1 years in 2021, while the Chinese National Health Commission estimated that life expectancy in China had risen to 78.3 in 2021, according to The State Council Of The People’s Republic of China. However, this data is disputed, with Chinese state estimates of life expectancy in 2020 nearly a year higher than estimates by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), or by the World Bank.
According to data from the OECD, the life expectancy at birth in China had already surpassed the U.S. in 2020, while data from the World Bank held that the U.S. retained a slight edge in 2020. Neither organization has issued estimates for 2021.
Data from the World Bank showed a steep drop in U.S. life expectancy of 1.5 years from 2019 and 2020, down to 77.2. Prior to that decline, life expectancy had held steady in the U.S. at around 78.7 years for the past decade.
The CDC estimates that, since 2019, life expectancy in the U.S. fell 2.7 years to approximately 76.1 years in 2021.
In contrast, China has seen its life expectancy increase year-on-year every year since 1960, when it was just 43.725 years, according to the World Bank. Life expectancy in China first surpassed 70 years in 1996.
While the U.S. life expectancy decreased primarily in 2021 as a result of coronavirus and overdose-related deaths, it is expected to rebound slightly in 2022, though not to pre-pandemic levels, according to Reuters
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