Volume 47 - Article 9 | Pages 233–246  

Life expectancy loss among Native Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Noreen Goldman, Theresa Andrasfay


Background: There has been little systematic research on the mortality impact of COVID-19 in the Native American population.

Objective: We provide estimates of loss of life expectancy in 2020 and 2021 relative to 2019 for the Native American population.

Methods: We use data on age-specific all-cause mortality rates from CDC WONDER and the 2019 life table recently released by the National Vital Statistics System for Native Americans to calculate life tables for the Native American population in 2020 and 2021 and to obtain estimates of life expectancy reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: The pandemic has set Native Americans further behind other major racial/ethnic groups in terms of life expectancy. The estimated loss in life expectancy at birth for Native Americans is 4.5 years in 2020 and 6.4 years in 2021 relative to 2019.

Conclusions: These results underscore the disproportionate share of deaths experienced by Native Americans: a loss in life expectancy at birth in 2020 that is more than three years above that for Whites and about 1.5 years above the losses for the Black and Latino populations. Despite a successful vaccination campaign among Native Americans, the estimated loss in life expectancy at birth in 2021 unexpectedly exceeds that in 2020.

Contribution: The increased loss in life expectancy in 2021, despite higher vaccination rates than in other racial/ethnic groups, highlights the huge challenges faced by Native Americans in their efforts to control the deleterious consequences of the pandemic.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

COVID-19 risk factors and mortality among Native Americans
Volume 45 - Article 39

Calloused hands, shorter life? Occupation and older-age survival in Mexico
Volume 42 - Article 32

Self-Reported Versus Performance-Based Measures of Physical Function: Prognostic Value for Survival
Volume 30 - Article 7

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