Little Girl with her Grandmother in 1949
Lisa-Blue/istockphoto

Life Expectancy the Year You Were Born

View Slideshow
Little Girl with her Grandmother in 1949
Lisa-Blue/istockphoto

Rising or Falling?

Well before U.S. deaths from the coronavirus pandemic reached more than a million, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted an equally sobering milestone: Life expectancy at birth dropped to 77 years in 2020, a decrease in the average lifespan of nearly two years from 2019. Further, life expectancy continues to shorten — dropping by nearly a full year in 2021 to 76.1, marking the steepest drop since World War II, according to updated CDC estimates.


If you're wondering what life expectancy was the year you were born and how it’s changed, the numbers going back to 1940 tell the tale.


Related: Can You Guess the Minimum Wage the Year You Were Born?

penicillin
Bettmann/Getty

1940

Overall life expectancy: 62.9

Women: 65.2

Men: 60.8

The United States began the ’40s on an upswing, with life expectancy up sharply from 58.5 years in 1936, when the nation was still struggling with the economic devastation of the Great Depression. The ’40s would also bring significant public-health landmarks, including the mass production of penicillin and the DTP shot, which combined the pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines. 


Related: Things We Can Learn From the Great Depression

gas mask lesson
Keystone/Getty

1941

Overall life expectancy: 64.8

Women: 66.8

Men: 63.1

1942
Fred Morley/Getty

1942

Overall life expectancy: 66.2

Women: 67.9

Men: 64.7

WWII 1943
Keystone/Getty

1943

Overall life expectancy: 63.3

Women: 64.4

Men: 62.4

Life expectancy dropped almost three years from 1942 to 1943. Though World War II may have driven a decline, a change in how life expectancy was calculated beginning in 1948 may have made the drop look more dramatic than it really was, scholars say.


D-Day Paratroops
Archive Photos /Getty

1944

Overall life expectancy: 65.2

Women: 66.8

Men: 63.6

V-E Day Celebration in Times Square
National Archives - Stills/Getty

1945

Overall life expectancy: 65.9

Women: 67.9

Men: 63.6

Fort Greene Retail Meat Market
Keystone /Getty

1946

Overall life expectancy: 66.7

Women: 69.4

Men: 64.4

1947
Reg Speller/Getty

1947

Overall life expectancy: 66.8

Women: 69.7

Men: 64.4

President Harry Truman Holding Erroneous Newspaper
Bettmann/Getty

1948

Overall life expectancy: 67.2

Women: 69.9

Men: 64.6

1949 woman sewing
Hulton Archive/Getty

1949

Overall life expectancy: 68

Women: 70.7

Men: 65.2

1949 marked the first year women’s life expectancy eclipsed 70 — a milestone men would not reach for another three decades. Experts have long documented that women tend to outlive men, attributing the difference to several factors. Among them: Men take more risks, are less likely to seek medical care, and are more likely to die of heart disease and suicide. 1949 was also the last time the U.S. saw an outbreak of smallpox.

1950 TV time
Harold M. Lambert/Getty

1950

Overall life expectancy: 68.2

Women: 71.1

Men: 65.6


1951 Chinatown
Ernst Haas/Getty

1951

Overall life expectancy: 68.4

Women: 71.4

Men: 65.6


Eisenhower and National Committee Women
Bettmann/Getty

1952

Overall life expectancy: 68.6

Women: 71.6

Men: 65.8


Audrey Hepburn
Archive Photos /Getty

1953

Overall life expectancy: 68.8

Women: 72

Men: 66

housewife and her young daughter
Harold M. Lambert/Getty

1954

Overall life expectancy: 69.6

Women: 72.8

Men: 66.7

polio vaccine
Bettmann/Getty

1955

Overall life expectancy: 69.6

Women: 72.8

Men: 66.7

In 1955, a nationwide push to inoculate children against polio began after trials found Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine was safe and effective. New polio cases dropped to less than 6,000 in 1957 from 58,000 in 1952.

MLK 1956
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1956

Overall life expectancy: 69.7

Women: 72.9

Men: 66.7

flu clinic 1957
Bettmann/Getty

1957

Overall life expectancy: 69.5

Women: 72.7

Men: 66.4

Though it was nowhere near as devastating as the 1918 pandemic that killed 50 million worldwide, the flu killed more than 116,000 in the United States and 1.1 million worldwide in 1957-58.

NYC rush hour traffic 1957
Ernst Haas/Getty

1958

Overall life expectancy: 69.6

Women: 72.9

Men: 66.6

Marilyn Monroe In Some Like It Hot
Silver Screen Collection/Getty

1959

Overall life expectancy: 69.9

Women: 73.2

Men: 66.8

Joseph Pilates
Susan Schiff Faludi/istockphoto

1960

Overall life expectancy: 69.7

Women: 73.1

Men: 66.6

By 1960, life expectancy numbers settled into a long-term pattern of slow but steady growth compared with more dramatic jumps at the beginning of the century. From 1950 to 1960, life expectancy grew 1.5 years, compared with a jump of more than five years from 1940 to 1950, more than three years from 1930 to 1940, and more than five years from 1920 to 1930.


1961
John Pratt/Getty

1961

Overall life expectancy: 70.2

Women: 73.6

Men: 67.1

Welcome House, Green Hills Farm
Schafer/Getty

1962

Overall life expectancy: 70.1

Women: 73.5

Men: 66.9

Birmingham Campaign
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1963

Overall life expectancy: 69.9

Women: 73.4

Men: 66.6

Smoking In Soho 1965
Susan Wood/Getty

1964

Overall life expectancy: 70.2

Women: 73.7

Men: 66.8

The U.S. government made waves in 1964 when the surgeon general released a landmark report that said cigarettes caused lung and throat cancer in men, and likely caused lung cancer in women.

Civil Rights March From Selma To Montgomery
Archive Photos /Getty

1965

Overall life expectancy: 70.2

Women: 73.8

Men: 66.8

Walker Brothers Audience 1966
Peter Keegan/Getty

1966

Overall life expectancy: 70.2

Women: 73.9

Men: 66.7

Billie Jean King
Reg Burkett/Getty

1967

Overall life expectancy: 70.5

Women: 74.3

Men: 67

Baltimore Riots
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1968

Overall life expectancy: 70.2

Women: 74.1

Men: 66.6

About a decade after the 1957-58 pandemic, yet another flu pandemic killed about 100,000 people in the U.S. and more than 1 million worldwide.

Apollo 11 Landing On The Moon
Hulton Archive/Getty

1969

Overall life expectancy: 70.5

Women: 74.4

Men: 66.8

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Archive Photos/Getty

1970

Overall life expectancy: 70.8

Women: 74.7

Men: 67.1

Life expectancy was relatively flat in the ’60s, rising less than a year from 1960 to 1970. Women added about 18 months to their lifespans, while men added only half a year. The ’60s also brought three significant vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella, which were eventually combined into the MMR shot in 1971


Christopher Street Parade
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1971

Overall life expectancy: 71.1

Women: 75

Men: 67.4

Presitdent Nixon
Robert Alexander/Getty

1972

Overall life expectancy: 71.2

Women: 75.1

Men: 67.4

Bowie At Victoria
Express/istockphoto

1973

Overall life expectancy: 71.4

Women: 75.3

Men: 67.6


Alice Cooper
Michael Putland/Getty

1974

Overall life expectancy: 72

Women: 75.9

Men: 68.2


Women's Liberation Parade
Bettmann/Getty

1975

Overall life expectancy: 72.6

Women: 76.6

Men: 68.8

1970s children
Susan Wood/Getty Images

1976

Overall life expectancy: 72.9

Women: 76.8

Men: 69.1

1970s disco
David Redfern/Getty

1977

Overall life expectancy: 73.3

Women: 77.2

Men: 69.5

Blizzard Of 1978 NYC,
Scott McPartland/Getty

1978

Overall life expectancy: 73.5

Women: 77.3

Men: 69.6

public school 1979
Barbara Alper/Getty

1979

Overall life expectancy: 73.9

Women: 77.8

Men: 70

New York Breakdancers
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1980

Overall life expectancy: 73.7

Women: 77.4

Men: 70

A particularly deadly flu season again was to blame for the drop in life expectancy in 1980, the nation’s first since 1968.

Christie Brinkley
Bettmann /Getty

1981

Overall life expectancy: 74.1

Women: 77.8

Men: 70.4


1981: Disco dancers
Tom Gates/Getty

1982

Overall life expectancy: 74.5

Women: 78.1

Men: 70.8

Research Not Hysteria AIDS
Barbara Alper/Getty

1983

Overall life expectancy: 74.6

Women: 78.1

Men: 71

Jean-Claude Chermann and Luc Montagnie, HIV
Michel Philippot/Getty

1984

Overall life expectancy: 74.7

Women: 78.2

Men: 71.1

Three years after the CDC identified the first-known cluster of AIDS cases in the U.S. in 1981, researchers determined the cause of the disease: HIV. The first commercially available HIV test would become available in 1985, and the first antiretroviral to fight HIV followed in 1987.

Security in Vehicles 1990
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

1985

Overall life expectancy: 74.7

Women: 78.2

Men: 71.1

In 1985, New York became the first state to require drivers to wear seat belts or risk a fine. Every state but New Hampshire eventually followed suit. In the early ’80s, seat belt use was only about 14%; today, it’s about 90%.

office 1980s
Karen Kasmauski /Getty

1986

Overall life expectancy: 74.7

Women: 78.2

Men: 71.2

Michael Jackson
KMazur/Getty

1987

Overall life expectancy: 74.9

Women: 78.3

Men: 71.4

This year marked a major milestone for the fight against heart disease, when lovastatin became the first such cholesterol-lowering drug approved for commercial use in the U.S. Several other statins followed, including familiar names such as atorvastatin (perhaps better known as Lipitor).

Shake Your Thang
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1988

Overall life expectancy: 74.9

Women: 78.3

Men: 71.4

New York City, USA, circa 1980
Barbara Alper/Getty

1989

Overall life expectancy: 75.1

Women: 78.5

Men: 71.7

Madonna
Gie Knaeps/Getty

1990

Overall life expectancy: 75.4

Women: 78.8

Men: 71.8

Bush and Gorbachev Laughing at Summit
Peter Turnley/Getty

1991

Overall life expectancy: 75.5

Women: 78.9 

Men: 72

Dean Witter
Michael Brennan/Getty

1992

Overall life expectancy: 75.8

Women: 79.1 

Men: 72.3

ACT UP Activists Protest US AIDS Policy
Jeffrey Markowitz/Getty

1993

Overall life expectancy: 75.5

Women: 78.8

Men: 72.2

In 1993, the U.S. notched its first significant decline in life expectancy since 1980, a blip that experts attributed to several factors: AIDS, a deadly flu season, and high accidental-death and murder rates for the year.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns
Rick Stewart/Getty

1994

Overall life expectancy: 75.7

Women: 79 

Men: 72.4

'Clueless'
Archive Photos /Getty

1995

Overall life expectancy: 75.8

Women: 78.9 

Men: 72.5

1990s office workers
Hulton Archive/Getty

1996

Overall life expectancy: 76.1

Women: 79.1 

Men: 73.1

Hillary Clinton Visits Monument in Central Asia
David Hume Kennerly/Getty

1997

Overall life expectancy: 76.5

Women: 79.4 

Men: 73.6

Appalachian Sweatshirt Factory
Karen Kasmauski /Getty

1998

Overall life expectancy: 76.7

Women: 79.5

Men: 73.8


The Cast Of Friends 1999
Hulton Archive/Getty

1999

Overall life expectancy: 76.7

Women: 79.4 

Men: 73.9

George W. Bush and Brother Jeb
Brooks Kraft /Getty

2000

Overall life expectancy: 76.8

Women: 79.7 

Men: 74.3

 World Trade Center attack
Michel Setboun/Getty

2001

Overall life expectancy: 77

Women: 79.5 

Men: 74.3

 9/11 vigil
Bastiaan Slabbers/istockphoto

2002

Overall life expectancy: 77

Women: 79.6

Men: 74.4

Group of young people 2000s
Pando Hall/istockphoto

2003

Overall life expectancy: 77.6

Women: 79.7

Men: 74.5

New York City, Central Park
Walter Bibikow/Getty

2004

Overall life expectancy: 77.5

Women: 80.1 

Men: 75

Steve Jobs
James Leynse/Getty

2005

Overall life expectancy: 77.6

Women: 80.1

Men: 75

family relaxing on pier
Jon Feingersh Photography Inc/Getty

2006

Overall life expectancy: 77.8

Women: 80.3 

Men: 75.2

Woman working in cafe
Vlada84/istockphotophoto

2007

Overall life expectancy: 78.1

Women: 80.6

Men: 75.5

Obama president
Michael Nagle/Getty

2008

Overall life expectancy: 78.2

Women: 80.6 

Men: 75.6

obama
Pool/Getty

2009

Overall life expectancy: 78.5

Women: 80.9 

Men: 76

Family vacation
eli_asenova/istockphoto

2010

Overall life expectancy: 78.7

Women: 81 

Men: 76.2

 Osama bin Laden is dead 2011
Viviane Moos/Getty

2011

Overall life expectancy: 78.7

Women: 81.1

Men: 76.3

 Trayvon Martin
David McNew /Getty

2012

Overall life expectancy: 78.8

Women: 81.2

Men: 76.4

simone biles
Ezra Shaw /Getty

2014

Overall life expectancy: 78.9

Women: 81.3

Men: 76.5

opioid crisis.
BackyardProduction/istockphoto

2015

Overall life expectancy: 78.7

Women: 81.1

Men: 76.3

In 2015, life expectancy backed off from its 2014 peak of 78.9. Several factors were at play, researchers say, including an increasing number of midlife deaths from the opioid crisis.

trump 2016
Mark Makela/Getty

2016

Overall life expectancy: 78.7

Women: 81.1

Men: 76.2

school classroom
Wavebreakmedia / istockphoto

2017

Overall life expectancy: 78.6

Women: 81.1

Men: 76.1

kids technology
Mark Makela/Getty

2018

Overall life expectancy: 78.7

Women: 81.2

Men: 76.2

woman on subway
LeoPatrizi/istockphoto

2019

Overall life expectancy: 78.8

Women: 81.4

Men: 76.3

coronavirus
Powerofflowers /istockphoto

2020

Overall life expectancy: 77

Women: 79.9

Men: 74.2

The U.S. recorded a more than one-year drop in life expectancy after the coronavirus outbreak evolved into a pandemic in early 2020. Researchers express optimism that the number would rebound, but noted that deaths disproportionately affected communities of color.

Smiling group of people walking together outdoors
Anchiy/istockphoto

2021

Overall life expectancy: 76.1

Women: 79.1

Men: 73.2

On average in 2021, life expectancy for men fell much quicker than women, widening a gap that had been growing over the past decade. The CDC also noted that white people saw more deaths from COVID-19 in the second year of the pandemic than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S. The increased mortality rate resulted in white people experiencing the second-biggest decline in life expectancy, down one year to 76.4.