Home Health Life expectancy in the U.S. improves despite another record-breaking year for drug...

Life expectancy in the U.S. improves despite another record-breaking year for drug overdoses


New research shows that in the U.S., people are living longer as COVID-19 deaths drop sharply and fatal drug overdoses stay steady.

In 2022, the average life expectancy in the U.S. went up by 1.1 years, from 76.4 to 77.5 years. The number of deaths decreased by about 184,000 compared to 2021.

This increase comes after two years of life expectancy decline, but it’s still less than half of what was lost during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. is now back to where it was in the early 2000s, showing it’s behind other countries in life expectancy.

The rise in life expectancy in 2022 was due to a 9% drop in the overall death rate, with decreases in most leading causes of death, especially COVID-19.

COVID-19 caused about 186,550 deaths in 2022, down from around 417,000 in 2021. It went from being the third-leading cause of death to the fourth, with unintentional injuries taking its place.

Kidney disease was the only leading cause of death to see an increase in mortality rate in 2022.

Other findings include:

  • The life expectancy gap between women and men decreased slightly.
  • Mortality rates went down for different racial and gender groups, notably for American Indian and Alaska Native males and Hispanic males.
  • Infant mortality and deaths among children aged 1-4 and 5-14 increased.
  • Declines in deaths from heart disease, cancer, and accidents contributed to the rise in life expectancy.
  • Despite a rise in drug overdose deaths over two decades, the rate remained stable from 2021 to 2022, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl being the main cause.
  • Cocaine-related deaths increased, as did deaths related to psychostimulants like methamphetamine, which skyrocketed over the past two decades.

Key findings from the overdose report include:

  • Adults aged 35-44 had the highest overdose death rate, while those 65 and older saw the largest rate increase.
  • Overdose rates increased among some racial groups but decreased among whites.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native people had the highest overdose rate and the largest increase compared to the previous year.