Effects of covid-19 pandemic on life expectancy and premature mortality in 2020: time series analysis in 37 countries

Nazrul Islam, research fellow1,  Dmitri A Jdanov, head of laboratory of demographic data23,  Vladimir M Shkolnikov, research scientist23,  Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine45,  Ichiro Kawachi, professor of social epidemiology6,  Martin White, professor of population health research7,  Sarah Lewington, professor of epidemiology and medical statistics18,  Ben Lacey, associate professor1

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 03 November 2021)


Objective To estimate the changes in life expectancy and years of life lost in 2020 associated with the covid-19 pandemic.

Design Time series analysis.

Setting 37 upper-middle and high income countries or regions with reliable and complete mortality data.

Participants Annual all cause mortality data from the Human Mortality Database for 2005-20, harmonised and disaggregated by age and sex.

Main outcome measures Reduction in life expectancy was estimated as the difference between observed and expected life expectancy in 2020 using the Lee-Carter model. Excess years of life lost were estimated as the difference between the observed and expected years of life lost in 2020 using the World Health Organization standard life table.

Results Reduction in life expectancy in men and women was observed in all the countries studied except New Zealand, Taiwan, and Norway, where there was a gain in life expectancy in 2020. No evidence was found of a change in life expectancy in Denmark, Iceland, and South Korea. The highest reduction in life expectancy was observed in Russia (men: −2.33, 95% confidence interval −2.50 to −2.17; women: −2.14, −2.25 to −2.03), the United States (men: −2.27, −2.39 to −2.15; women: −1.61, −1.70 to −1.51), Bulgaria (men: −1.96, −2.11 to −1.81; women: −1.37, −1.74 to −1.01), Lithuania (men: −1.83, −2.07 to −1.59; women: −1.21, −1.36 to −1.05), Chile (men: −1.64, −1.97 to −1.32; women: −0.88, −1.28 to −0.50), and Spain (men: −1.35, −1.53 to −1.18; women: −1.13, −1.37 to −0.90). Years of life lost in 2020 were higher than expected in all countries except Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and South Korea. In the remaining 31 countries, more than 222 million years of life were lost in 2020, which is 28.1 million (95% confidence interval 26.8m to 29.5m) years of life lost more than expected (17.3 million (16.8m to 17.8m) in men and 10.8 million (10.4m to 11.3m) in women). The highest excess years of life lost per 100 000 population were observed in Bulgaria (men: 7260, 95% confidence interval 6820 to 7710; women: 3730, 2740 to 4730), Russia (men: 7020, 6550 to 7480; women: 4760, 4530 to 4990), Lithuania (men: 5430, 4750 to 6070; women: 2640, 2310 to 2980), the US (men: 4350, 4170 to 4530; women: 2430, 2320 to 2550), Poland (men: 3830, 3540 to 4120; women: 1830, 1630 to 2040), and Hungary (men: 2770, 2490 to 3040; women: 1920, 1590 to 2240). The excess years of life lost were relatively low in people younger than 65 years, except in Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and the US where the excess years of life lost was >2000 per 100 000.

Conclusion More than 28 million excess years of life were lost in 2020 in 31 countries, with a higher rate in men than women. Excess years of life lost associated with the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015.

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2020 Witnesses Largest Growth in Billionaires

POLITSTURM | October 02, 2021

2020 Witnesses Largest Growth in Billionaires

According to a report published by Wealth-X, 2020 witnessed the largest growth in billionaire individuals since they started recording this data. The United States has the largest share of the world’s billionaires with 29%. China and India had the highest percentage growth of billionaires at 19.9% and 19.5%, respectively. 

The growth in billionaires over the previous year was largely attributed to “expansive government support measures [which] propelled a dramatic rally in financial markets, after an initial pandemic-driven collapse.”

The report also suggested an increasing centralization of privately-held wealth, with billionaires representing 1% of the population of ultra-high net-worth individuals yet holding 28% of the cumulative wealth.

Read More »

COVID Curbed Carbon Emissions in 2020 — But Not By Much

Jeff Tollefson

Nature | January 20, 2021

An airport departures hall, with no people.
The aviation sector was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020, contributing to decreases in global carbon emissions. Here, Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, is empty on 27 November 2020, when it would normally be full of Thanksgiving travellers.Credit: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty

After rising steadily for decades, global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4%, or 2.3 billion tonnes, in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic squelched economic and social activities worldwide, according to new data on daily fossil fuel emissions. The decline is significant — roughly double Japan’s yearly emissions — but smaller than many climate researchers expected given the scale of the pandemic, and is not expected to last once the virus is brought under control.Read More »


Upper Ocean Temperatures Set a New High Record in 2020

Climate and Capitalism | January 14, 2021

Heat content change in the upper 2000 meters of the global ocean. (Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, January 2021)

Even with the Covid-19-related small dip in global carbon emissions due to limited travel and other activities, the ocean temperatures continued a trend of breaking records in 2020. A new study by 20 scientists from 13 institutes around the world, reported the highest ocean temperatures since 1955 from surface level to a depth of 2,000 meters.Read More »


2020: Unprecedented Struggles, Renewed Hope for Victories

Peoples Dispatch | December 31, 2020

2020 brought unexpected and unforeseen challenges. It tore away the fantasies of the capitalist regimes who amid the worst global healthcare crisis in history, still put profits over people. People’s movements and socialist governments showed that a different world is possible, and that we must fight for it.Read More »


The Year The Unions Kept Us Strong

Pavan Kulkarni

People’s Dispatch | December 31, 2020

Community health workers in India blockade a road during the historic strike on November 26. Source Newsclick

[Peoples Dispatch brings you a series of articles and videos on 2020, a momentous year that saw humanity face unprecedented challenges. The beacon of hope remained the historic resistance mounted by people’s movements, and the care and solidarity they epitomized, proving yet again that our collective struggles alone can dismantle and end oppression. You can read the full series here]

From the over 1,100 strikes in the US, averaging over three a day, to history’s largest known general strike witnessed in India, labor actions across continents in 2020 demonstrated the firm refusal of the working class to passively accept on to its shoulders the burden of an unprecedented economic that has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.Read More »


2020 in Review: Workers Struggle Under the Weight of the Pandemic

Dan DiMaggio and Saurav Sarkar

Labor Notes | December 21, 2020

Medial personnel gathered outside in back of a sign that says "Heroes."
The labor movement struggled to find its footing in the biggest workplace health and safety crisis of our lifetimes. Photo: Jim West /, cropped from original.

Workers will feel the ramifications of this unprecedented year long into the future.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 300,000 lives, destroyed millions of jobs, busted gaping holes in public budgets, and magnified the myriad inequalities that have come to define life in the United States.

Notwithstanding a few bright spots, the labor movement struggled to find its footing in the biggest workplace health and safety crisis of our lifetimes.Read More »


Top Ten Posts of 2020

Michael Roberts’ Blog | December 23, 2020

As usual at this time of the year, it’s the annual stock take for this blog.  This year there have been 670,000 hits on the blog to date.  That’s up 45% on 2019, another record!  That may not match the millions that hit the sites of mainstream economists but it’s not bad for a Marxist.

I began this blog back over ten years ago.  Over those ten years, I have posted 957 times with over three and half million viewings. There are currently 5,300 regular followers of the blog and 10,250 followers of the Michael Roberts Facebook site, which I started six years ago.  On the Facebook site, I put short daily items of information or comment on economics and economic events.Read More »


COVID and 2020: An Extraordinary Year for Science

Ewen Callaway, Heidi Ledford, Giuliana Viglione, Traci Watson, & Alexandra Witze

Nature | December 24, 2020

One event dominated in 2020: a deadly and previously unknown virus wreaked havoc across the globe, killing more than 1.5 million people, infecting many more and causing economic devastation. And although there were other newsworthy research developments in 2020, the pandemic set the course of science to an extraordinary degree.

The speed of the coronavirus’s spread has been matched only by the pace of scientific insights. Almost as soon as SARS-CoV-2 was discovered, research groups worldwide started probing its biology, while others developed diagnostic tests or investigated public-health measures to control it. Scientists also raced to find treatments and create vaccines that could bring the pandemic under control. “We’ve never progressed so fast with any other infectious agent,” says virologist Theodora Hatziioannou at the Rockefeller University in New York City.Read More »


Christmas 2020. It’s all about the loved ones

Annie McCrae

Culture Matters | December 20, 2020

Christmas 2020. It’s all about the loved ones

but what about the sick ones
the bullied ones
the just about surviving ones
the unemployed ones
the struggling ones
the can’t cope any longer ones?

And what about the lonely ones
the grieving ones
the drowning ones
the exploited ones
the abused ones
the trapped can’t leave ones?

What about the homeless ones
the left out ones
the voiceless ones
the ignored ones
the selfless ones
not in it for themselves ones?

And what about the honest ones
the starving ones
the care home ones
the stranded ones
the shielding ones
the not a Tory crony ones?

The dead ones
the unloved ones
What about them?

Annie McCrae

Annie McCrae is a retired English teacher and trade union activist, including a stint as a national organiser for the EIS teaching union.


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