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Life expectancy increased overall in the United States between 2000 and 2015, but opioid-related deaths reduced the gains made, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published today.

The bottom line: U.S. life expectancy was steadily rising since 1970 but stopped in 2014, mostly because of drug-related deaths.

Expand chart

Data: Journal of the American Medical Association; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Key findings:

  • Life expectancy rose two years, from 76.8 to 78.8 years, between 2000 and 2015.
  • During that period, decreased death rates due to stroke, cancer, heart disease and other conditions increased life expectancy by 2.25 years.
  • But the increase was offset about 2.5 months by opioid-related deaths.
  • In 2000, there were 17,415 drug-related deaths (including opioids but other drugs as well). In 2015, there were more than 52,400, bumping drug overdoses into the 12 leading causes of death in the country.
  • Data were collected from death certificates, and the authors wrote that the contribution of opioid-involved deaths to the change in life expectancy is likely an underestimate because a specific drug is not always recorded.
  • In the early 2000s, increases in overdose deaths were tied to prescription opioid use but more recently illicit fentanyl and heroin use are driving a surge. That is a difficult demarcation, though. According to Stanford University's Keith Humphreys, "4/5 of people on heroin started on prescription opioids."

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U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

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Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

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Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

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Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.