The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Life Expectancy Sinking

Apr 11, 2022

When Covid-19 first blazed around the world in 2020, many people lost loved ones. Studies showed that in 2020, life expectancy dropped across the world. This was shocking because life expectancy had been steadily going up for 100 years in developed countries.

A study just published in April looked at life expectancy in the second year of the pandemic, in 2021. The study looked at the U.S. and 19 similarly wealthy countries. It was found that in 2021, life expectancy went down in the U.S.—again. But in 17 similarly wealthy countries, life expectancy actually went up—in the middle of the pandemic! To place this study in context, understand that the U.S. is the only wealthy country that does NOT guarantee a right to healthcare.

In 2021, U.S. life expectancy was lower for what gets called all racial groups. Whether categorized as hispanic, black or white—all people in the U.S. had lower life expectancy compared to 19 other wealthy countries.

Another study, from Oxford University, looked at the 29 wealthiest countries. The U.S. had the biggest drop in male life expectancy during the COVID-pandemic.

A third study, The Poor People’s Pandemic Report, compared the poorest 10% of U.S. counties with the richest 10% of counties. People in poor counties died at almost twice the rate of those in richer counties.

Differences in death rates were not always due to difference in vaccination rates. Vaccination rates were about 50% on average for all groups in the study. The biggest difference was that the poor areas had twice the amount of people without health insurance!

Bishop William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign that helped produce the report, said, "The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking and unjust, especially in light of the trillions of dollars that profit-driven entities received."

During the pandemic, the federal government forbade states from taking away Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people. Any day now, the Biden administration is expected to end those protections. What ending Medicaid protections will do to accelerate deaths in the U.S. is horrible to imagine. With the pandemic still not over, the U.S. government eliminating healthcare protections is criminal!