US life expectancy at birth is now 76.1 years, which is a full year less than the 77.1 year life expectancy in China.
American life expectancy is now at its lowest since 1996, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics that showed a decline in U.S. life expectancy for the third year in a row.
It also means that the gap in longevity at birth between people in the US and China has now widened to a full year.
China passing the United States in life expectancy should be a headline in every US newspaper, according to Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm in New York City.
The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of India.
Decades of breakneck economic growth have dramatically improved China’s level of domestic health conditions.
China achieves near-universal coverage through the provision of publicly funded basic medical insurance. The basic medical insurance plans cover primary, specialty, hospital, and mental health care, as well as prescription drugs and traditional Chinese medicine.
In 2018, China spent approximately 6.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, which is significantly less than such expenditures in the United States.
U.S. health care spending grew 9.7 percent in 2020, reaching $4.1 trillion or $12,530 per person. As a share of the nation’s GDP, American health spending accounted for 19.7 percent.
Arguably, improvements in the provision of public health services, particularly in infant and maternal health, have been the biggest factors in raising life expectancy.
In mainland China, the Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality by two-thirds was reached in 2008, seven years ahead of the target date.
In 2020, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in China decreased to 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births since the previous year.
“In the US, to have a similar drop in life expectancy from one year to the next like it was in 2020, you need to go back to the time before the Second World War,” said Jonas Schöley, a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany.
Because of the US’ “disjointed and inadequate pandemic response”, more than a million people have been counted in the death toll, the author wrote.
In addition, the life expectancy of Indigenous, Black and Latino populations in the US has seen a greater drop-off than other demographic groups.
“The US stood out in terms of having more deaths from causes other than COVID-19, indicating the US did a worse job containing the impacts of the pandemic on the broader health care system,” said Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral scholar in gerontology at the University of Southern California.
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