Californians aren’t living as long as they used to. Here’s why

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy of Californians has fallen dramatically in the past year.

According to the CDC’s latest National Vital Statistics Report, which charted death rates for all 50 states from 2019 to 2020, Californians lose an average of two years of their lives. The report shows that every state and the District of Columbia experienced a decline in life expectancy, with the national average being 77 years — a year down from 78 years in last year’s study.

States with the largest declines in life expectancy include those in the “Southwest and US-Mexico border” including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, DC and New Jersey. Data in the study was compiled using final death counts from the National Vital Statistics System, population counts from the US Census Bureau, and state death and population counts from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Last year, California ranked second behind Hawaii with the highest life expectancy in the country. While Hawaii topped this year’s report with an average life expectancy of 80.7 years, California fell to fourth place with a new average of 79 years, tied with Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Women in California appear to be doing better than men, with a life expectancy of 82 years for women and 76 for men — up from 78 years compared to last year’s report.

What is the reason for this shorter lifespan? COVID-19.

Overall life expectancy in the United States fell by an average of 1.8 years, “mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the study said. In 2020 alone, COVID-19 was responsible for at least 400,000 confirmed deaths, but that number has surpassed 1 million since the pandemic began in 2019 — the largest increase in US mortality in the past 100 years, according to the Census Bureau.

The state has had 94,047 COVID-related deaths, according to California’s COVID-19 Dashboard, and the virus is the third leading cause of death in the state, according to the CDC.

Another factor contributing to the decline in life expectancy across the country is an increase in “unintentional injuries,” mostly from drug overdoses, the report said.

According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdoses in the United States in 2021 — a 15% increase from 2020. Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were responsible for 71,238 deaths — the leading cause of drug-related deaths in the year 2021, followed by psychostimulants such as methamphetamine, as well as cocaine and prescription drugs.

The other six states in the top 10 for life expectancy are No. 2 Washington (79.2 years), No. 3 Minnesota (79.1), No. 7 Vermont (78.8), No. 8 Oregon (78.8 ), No. 9 Utah (78.6), and No. 10 Connecticut (78.4). Californians aren’t living as long as they used to. Here’s why

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