New Yorkers are healthier when they live in a city that is healthier. As we emerge from the COVID-19 public health emergency, New Yorkers are sicker — and are dying too soon.
Life expectancy — the average number of years a person can expect to live from the time of their birth — has dropped dramatically, from 82.6 years in 2019 to 78 years in 2020. This represents the biggest and fastest drop in lifespan in a century.
The decreases in life expectancy were not experienced equally among all New Yorkers. The largest decreases were among Black and Latino New Yorkers. For Black New Yorkers, the pandemic worsened existing disparities.
Improving life expectancy will require collaboration, energy and focus from many partners, including everyone who calls New York City home.
HealthyNYC is the City’s vision for how to improve life expectancy and create a healthier city for all. We can ensure all New Yorkers are able to realize their full health potential, regardless of who they are, where they are from and where they live.
We have set ambitious goals to increase life expectancy across key drivers, below. By 2030, we aim to increase life expectancy to exceed 83 years. With improvements in key areas, we know we can get life expectancy back on track and ensure everyone has the chance to live the healthiest, longest life possible.
Learn more about each driver of decreased life expectancy, how we are framing HealthyNYC in the bigger picture of public health and how we plan to meet these goals.
Our vision is to set ambitious “reach” goals to change health outcomes by targeting the major drivers of overall death, excess death, premature death and extreme racial inequities. If we achieve all the HealthyNYC goals, we can avert 7,300 deaths in NYC by 2030.
Chronic and diet-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and screenable cancers, continue to be leading causes of death across all racial and ethnic groups in NYC. In 2021, more than 30,000 New Yorkers died from these conditions, one-third of which were due to cancer.
Our goal is to decrease heart- and diabetes-related deaths by 5%, and screenable cancer deaths by 20% by 2030. To do this, we will increase health care access, prevention activities and access to healthy foods. We will also aim to reduce toxins in our food supply, prevent tobacco use and reduce smoking and alcohol consumption.
Heart- and diabetes-related diseases stayed level, about 21,000 per year, after a sharp rise in 2020 to 26,088. There is also a disparity in these deaths among race and ethnicity in NYC, with Black New Yorkers having the highest number of deaths related to heart disease and diabetes.
While deaths from screenable cancers have declined by 20% since 2015, significant disparities across race and ethnicity remain. For example, in 2021, the rate of premature death from cancer was about 41% higher among Black New Yorkers compared to the citywide average.
NYC is facing a mental health crisis following an unprecedented period of loss, isolation, trauma, economic insecurity and racial inequity during the COVID-19 pandemic, building on decades of increasing mental health needs and a history of disinvestment in and neglect of mental health systems. Mental health contributes to decreases in life expectancy directly, through overdose and suicide.
Drug overdose deaths have increased more than 75% since 2019, illustrating a crisis of mental health and social isolation.
Our goal is to reduce deaths by 25% by 2030. To do this, we will increase access to naloxone, medication-assisted treatment, methadone and harm reduction services, including overdose prevention centers. We will also increase response services to nonfatal overdose and increase access to drug testing services.
Suicide deaths have stayed level in recent years, but the high numbers per year since 2015 are not acceptable and are a contrast to natural trends. Risk of suicide is rising. Of particular concern is the increasing rate of suicidal ideation among NYC teenagers, LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers and communities of color.
Our goal is to decrease suicide deaths by 10% by 2030. To do this, we will increase access to culturally responsive mental health care and social support services, reduce access to lethal means of suicide and address the impact of social media on youth mental health and suicidal ideation.
More than 20,400 NYC residents died from COVID-19 in 2020, followed by more than 7,700 NYC residents in 2021. Age-adjusted COVID-19 death rates in 2020 were roughly twice as high among Black and Latino New Yorkers compared with White and Asian New Yorkers.
Our goal is to decrease deaths by 60% by 2030. To do this, we are focusing on protecting New Yorkers at the highest risk of severe disease and death, which includes people who are older, are immunocompromised and/or have certain disabilities that may increase their risk for having underlying health conditions. We will increase availability of treatment and vaccination uptake among this group.
Homicide is the leading cause of death among New Yorkers ages 15 to 24, with firearms accounting for more than 70% of those deaths. Homicides have increased more than 59% since 2019.
Our goal is to reduce homicide deaths by 30% by 2030. To do this, we will invest in communities most impacted by violence, increase access to mental health and violence-related trauma support and expand community-engaged and data-driven approaches to public safety.
Extreme racial disparities persist in maternal mortality in NYC. Black women are four times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy-associated causes.
Our goal is to reduce maternal death rates by 10% by 2030. To do this, we will increase new families' access to health care and social support, and increase access to and quality of sexual and reproductive health care for people of color who may become pregnant, are pregnant or have recently given birth. Our goal will make significant progress toward closing the disparity, but our work cannot end there.