the real impact of the pandemic on life expectancy

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than 6 million lives worldwide. Several countries report a drop in the life expectancy of their inhabitants.

The Covid pandemic has triggered an increase, unprecedented in recent times, in the number of deaths worldwide and a visible drop in life expectancy worldwide. In a study conducted in 2021, we had already found that the year 2020 had led to significant losses in life expectancy. The effect had been particularly striking in the United States, with a drop of more than two years, and in England and Wales, with a drop of one year.

This time, in a new study just published in Nature Human Behavior, we showed that in 2021 life expectancy rebounded somewhat in most Western European countries, while Eastern Europe and the United States recorded further losses . Everywhere, however, the situation is worse than it would probably have been without the pandemic… Except in Norway, which has regained and even exceeded its 2019 life expectancy.

We knew the outlook for 2021 was mixed. The enthusiasm generated by the deployment of vaccination is indeed tempered by the considerable number of infections caused by the regular emergence of new variants. To assess the impact of these changes, our research team from the Leverhulme Center for Demographic Science (University of Oxford) and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research gathered data from 29 countries (mainly European, as well as Chile and the United States).

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