An average American could expect to live 78.8 years in 2015, a slight drop from 78.9 in 2014. The U.S. ranked 42nd in the world in 2014, a full five years shorter than leaders Hong Kong and Japan.
Within the United States, life expectancy varied from a high of 81.3 in Hawaii to 75.0 in Mississippi. And life expectancies within states varied as well. In Florida, the difference between the shortest life expectancy (76.4 years in Panama City) and the longest (83.5 in the Naples metro area) was 7.1 years. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Rhode Island, the city with the shortest and longest life expectancy was the same: Burlington, Manchester, Dover and Providence, respectively.
The cities where life expectancies are the shortest tend to report more unhealthy behaviors than cities with longer life expectancies. Inactivity and unhealthy eating contribute to higher obesity rates, which in turn increase the risk of life-shortening diseases. Of the 50 cities with the shortest life expectancy in their state, 40 have higher obesity rates than the nation as a whole.
The cities on this list also tend to have lower household incomes and a larger share of residents living in poverty. Median household incomes are lower than the national median in all but nine of the 50 cities.
24/7 Wall Street compiled a list, by state, of the U.S. metro areas with the shortest life expectancies. The following were the 10 cities that had the shortest life expectancies in the entire country:
- Gadsden, Alabama: 73.3 yrs.
- Beckley, West Virginia: 73.5 yrs.
- Pine Bluff, Arkansas: 73.8 yrs.
- Florence, South Carolina: 74.0 yrs.
- Alexandria, Louisiana: 74.4 yrs.
- Macon, Georgia: 74.9 yrs.
- Texarkana, Texas: 74.9 yrs.
- Hattiesburg, Mississippi: 75.2 yrs.
- Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona: 75.2 yrs.
- Morristown, Tennessee: 75.3 yrs.
The cities with the longest life expectancy on this list are Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont, and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, where the averages are more than 80 years. To see where other cities stack up, check out our complete list of those with the shortest life expectancies and also the cities with the longest life expectancies in each state.