The COVID-19 pandemic slashed the life expectancy of 30-year-olds in 29 developed countries in 2020, and it had an especially devastating effect on the life expectancy of 30-year-olds in the United States.
José Manuel Aburto, a demographer at Oxford University, and other demographers have reported the details in a new paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published data showing that the overall U.S. life expectancy at birth dropped 1.5 years between 2019 and 2020, to 77.3 years, and that U.S. life expectancy at age 65 dropped 0.8 years, to 18.8 additional years.
Aburto and his colleagues found that life expectancy at birth fell between 2019 and 2020 in 27 of the 29 countries with reasonably complete, somewhat comparable mortality data.
Much of the drop was the result of the deaths of people ages 60 and older. But in the United States and other countries with relatively high drops in life expectancy, an increase in the death rate for people under age 60 also contributed to the decreases, the researchers reported.
For life insurers, the life expectancy of young people who may be buying their first homes and having children is of especially keen interest because traditionally, most life insurers have thought of young people undergoing major life events as prime prospects for life insurance and other financial services products.
For 30-year-olds in the 29 countries Aburto’s team studied, the change in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 ranged from an increase of 0.12 years, in Norway, to a decrease of 1.88 years, in the United States.
The median change was a decrease of 0.79 years.
For a look at what happened to mortality rates for 30-year-olds between 2019 and 2020 in the United States and six other major life insurance markets, see the slideshow above.
The researchers noted they compared the full-year 2020 results with the results they might have predicted for the year in mid-2020.
“Our results show a sharper decrease in life expectancy than those based on mid-year estimates, in line with including the remaining months of 2020 that also saw persistent levels of excess mortality,” the researchers wrote.
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