The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy in the USA: An application of hybrid life expectancy

Sanderson, W. & Scherbov, S. ORCID: (2023). The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy in the USA: An application of hybrid life expectancy. Biology Methods and Protocols 8 (1) bpad025. 10.1093/biomethods/bpad025.

[thumbnail of bpad025.pdf]
bpad025.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (476kB) | Preview
Project: The Demography of Sustainable Human Wellbeing (EmpoweredLifeYears, H2020 741105)


Pandemics are, by definition, temporary intervals of substantially increased mortality rates experienced across a wide geographic area. One way of assessing the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA has been to compute the differences in life expectancy at birth during a pandemic year and the year before the pandemic. Such comparisons are misleading because they do not account for the duration of the pandemic. The computation of life expectancy in 2019 assumes that people spend their entire lives experiencing prepandemic mortality rates. The computation of life expectancy in 2021 assumes that people live their entire lives in a permanent pandemic. However, people do not live their entire lives experiencing the elevated mortality rates of 2021. This article introduces a method for calculating life expectancy that reflects the experience of people enduring pandemic-level mortality rates for fixed durations. We call the new quantity hybrid life expectancy because it integrates both pandemic and prepandemic mortality rates. The difference in life expectancy at birth in the USA in 2019 with and without a 3-year-long pandemic is 0.01 years. This is because mortality rates at ages 0, 1, and 2 in the pandemic were essentially unchanged from their prepandemic levels. Life expectancy at age 65 incorporating a 3-year pandemic is 0.18 years lower than life expectancy would have been without it. Reductions in life expectancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic using hybrid life expectancy are dramatically lower than differences in life expectancy that do not take the duration of the pandemic into account.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; hybrid life expectancy; life expectancy; pandemic duration
Research Programs: Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (SHAW)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2023 14:09
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 14:09

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item