The United States for the first time lost to China in life expectancy

MOSCOW, 31 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

For the first time in history, the United States lost to China in terms of the most important demographic indicator – life expectancy at birth (for more details, see below). This follows from the latest summary for 2020 from the American National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The reason is COVID-19. Due to the coronavirus last year, the US showed the largest annual increase in mortality since World War II, as a result of which life expectancy fell for Americans by as much as 1.8 years — from 78.8 to 77 years. Against this background, the Celestial Empire, whose losses didn’t exceed even 6,000 people during the entire pandemic, last year safely improved its life expectancy, achieved back in 2019 – 77.3 years.

The RUSSTRAT Institute has already written that this year the mortality rate in the United States from coronavirus is breaking records in 2020 – despite all the vaccines, tests, lockdowns and proven treatment methods. This means that by the end of 2021, Americans’ personal income will decrease again and their lag behind the Chinese may well become insurmountable.

Sad statistics disavow the recent words of President Joe Biden that the United States is in a better position than in March 2020. Even more unpleasant for Washington is that the inexorable figures allowed the Chinese to get ahead in the fundamental competition of the two systems. It turned out that in the “developing” China under the “authoritarian” leadership of the Communist Party, people are healthier and they are destined for a longer life than on the territory of the “light of democracy” and the “only superpower”.

2020 was scary. 2021 is even scarier

Life expectancy at birth is an integral predictive indicator in demography that determines the standard of living and development of healthcare in a particular country. It denotes the average number of years that a citizen born in a given year can live. For example, the indicator of 80 years of life expectancy, achieved by some country in 2021, suggests that the children born in it now, for the most part, will live to the 21st century.

In the “pre-COVID” 2019, the US could boast 78.79 years of life expectancy compared to the Chinese 77.3 years. This advantage looked significant – it would have taken at least 10-12 years for the Chinese to reduce the backlog at the then pace. Even despite the stagnation of this indicator in the United States after 2014 (in that year their life expectancy peaked at 78.84 years).

However, the coronavirus pandemic has mixed all the cards. In 2020, according to NCHS estimates, 3,383,729 Americans died – this is a record figure in the entire history of the country, exceeding the deadly harvest of 2019 by almost 529,000 people. At the same time, according to official data, 350,831 US residents died from COVID last year, which put coronavirus on the third line among all causes of death in the country after circulatory diseases and cancer. For comparison, the death rate from covid in China in 2020 was, according to the WHO, only 4,791 people.

It is easy to assume that about 180,000 additional deaths of Americans are the result of factors accompanying the pandemic. However, not everyone trusts US statistics. So, a recent investigation by USA Today showed that a different reason for passing away was registered on the death certificates of tens of thousands of people who died from COVID-19. Simply put, in reality, not 350,000, but many more Americans died from the virus a year ago.

Anyway, the year 2021 turned out to be even more terrible for America. As of December 28, 818,371 Americans have already died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. It turns out that this year, 2021, the number of COVID deaths in the US will reach about 470,000 people — 120,000 more than a year earlier. Compare this with China, where this year the coronavirus has claimed the lives of only about 900 people – again, according to the WHO.

As for excess mortality (the one that surpassed the predicted demographers) in the United States for the past year, there are no official statistics yet. However, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (there are weekly summaries for all OECD countries for 2020 and 47 weeks of 2021), in January-November it was already 523,000 people – almost the same as for the whole of last year. The site provides slightly different data usmortality.com, but according to it, it turns out that the deplorable indicator of 2020 was exceeded in the US by mid-November.

Thus, excess mortality in the United States in 2021 may reach 550,000 people, and the total mortality will exceed 3.4 million people. Since, as NCHS claimed back in July, COVID-19 was “responsible” for 74% of the total reduction in life expectancy of Americans last year, it can be calculated that this indicator in the US will fall again – to about 76.5-76.6. While in China, it is necessary to predict a further increase in life expectancy to 77.5-77.6.

A whole year of separation from life expectancy is already serious, and judging by the latest data on infections and deaths from COVID in the United States, it will grow every month.

While the fat become thin, the thin will die

The fact is that today the United States, like almost the whole world, except just China, is being covered by a fifth wave of the pandemic caused by the Omicron strain. During the week of December 20-26, almost 10,000 Americans died from coronavirus, and in the four weeks from November 29 to December 26 – 38,700, with more than 4 million newly infected. But 205.2 million citizens are fully vaccinated in the USA – 61.8% of the total population of the country (and 72.7% of those over 18 years old).

More general figures also suggest that America will see a deterioration in demographic indicators by the end of 2021. Last year, the country’s population grew by only 0.1% – and although in absolute numbers it rose by 392,000 people, the percentage figure was the worst in the history of this country.

In 2020, 3,613,647 children were born in the United States – this is 4% less than a year earlier, and an anti-record since 1973. At the same time, December 2020 showed a drop of as much as 7.66% compared to December 2019. In general, a decrease in the birth rate in the US has been observed since 2007 by an average of 2% annually, with a single insignificant spike in 2014.

This trend was certainly continued in 2021, and thus, according to its results, mortality in America for the first time can almost equal the birth rate: about 3.40-3.45 million deaths versus 3.45-3.50 million births. A striking contrast with 2019, when the population of the US grew naturally by 892,000 people at once!

And it is not a fact that the current meagre difference will greatly increase the influx of immigrants. As was indicated by the US Census Bureau, COVID-19 brought down this source of replenishment of the American population. In the period from July 2020  to July 2021 (the bureau considers it so), it brought only 247,000 new citizens to the US. For comparison, the previous figure was 477,000 people, and in 2015-2016 the United States became richer by a million newfound compatriots.

And what about China? According to Beijing’s official figures, in 2020, the population of the Celestial Empire (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) increased from 1.410 to 1.412 billion people – “only” by more than two million people.

Of course, if you wish, you can notice that COVID-19, if it did not kill hundreds of thousands of Chinese, then, in any case, it reduced the birth rate in China to a record low of 8.52/1000 people, compared with 11/1000 people in the USA. One can promise Beijing problems due to the premature ageing of the population and predict, contrary to all statistics, a reduction in the country’s population by the end of 2021, as CNN does.

But it is obvious that even if this happens, it will not be a consequence of uncontrolled waves of coronavirus, but a logical outcome of Beijing’s state policy, which it is able to significantly adjust if necessary. And it does this – taking into account, for example, the call of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee of May 31, 2021 for married couples to give birth to a third child. This turned out to be the party’s response to the results of the population census in 2020, which showed the slowest growth rate of its population for the entire existence of communist China.

It is obvious at the same time that not all countries can directive urge their population to give birth more. As a result, for example, the population of the European Economic Area (EEA – that is, the European Union + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) according to the “pre-COVID” forecasts, the UN will begin to shrink already from 2022, reaching its limit of 451 million people.

In addition, the Old World has just fallen under the aforementioned fifth wave of coronavirus, which killed 43,600 of its inhabitants in just one incomplete December. In total, since the beginning of the pandemic, the EEA has lost over 887,000 people – more than the United States. And the only effective mechanism for correcting the demographic situation in the hands of the European authorities remains the poorly controlled, despite all efforts, flow of culturally alien migrants from the countries of the Greater Middle East and Africa.

All new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are waiting for the planet ahead, and when they are over, a new pandemic will come – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has already called for it to prepare the other day. But no matter what humanity faces in the future, it is safe to say that different countries of the world, including China and the United States, will react to this challenge in completely different ways. And this is best described by the Russian proverb “While the fat become thin, the thin will die”.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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