by Steve Bittenbender
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the overall health of Kentucky and the rest of the nation. Now, researchers can point out how the coronavirus has affected the population.
According to the University of Louisville’s Kentucky State Data Center, the life expectancy at birth for a Kentuckian has dropped by 3.4 years from 2019 to 2021.
In 2019, the average life expectancy for both sexes was nearly 76 years, with females on average about five years live longer than males. In 2021, even the average life expectancy for a female dipped below 76.
Matt Ruther, a UofL associate professor of urban and public affairs who serves as the KSDC director, told The Center Square the center’s projection was based on data from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics. While COVID played a significant role in the decrease, other factors, such as drug overdoses, also had an impact.
The KSDC’s numbers aren’t far off from data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2019, the average life expectancy at birth in Kentucky was 75.5 years, with females expected to live on average 78 years and males expected to live 72.9 years.
A year later, the national center found Kentuckians were expected to live 73.5 years at birth, the fifth lowest life expectancy in the U.S. and 3.5 years lower than the national average.
Similarly, Kentucky also has the fifth-lowest life expectancy for adults at age 65, with those individuals in 2020 expected on average to live 16.9 more years. The national average at 65 is 18.5 years.
Every state experienced a decrease in life expectancy in 2020. According to the national center, Kentucky’s two-year drop was tied with Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and South Carolina as the 10th biggest change in the country.
Hawaii leads the country in life expectancy, with an average of 80.7 years in 2020.
Virginia, at No. 18 in 2020, had the highest life expectancy of Kentucky’s neighboring states at 77.6 years. Ohioans came in at No. 38 at 75.3 years. Indiana was 41st at 75 years, and Tennessee was just above Kentucky at 73.8 years.
West Virginia finished next to last with a life expectancy of 72.8 years, ahead of only Mississippi’s 71.9.
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