Special Report

Life Expectancy at Birth in Lincoln County, SD Is Among the Highest in the Country

Life expectancy is one of the most important and commonly cited indicators of population health — and in the United States, life expectancy is falling at a historic rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy at birth declined by 1.5 years in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II.

The CDC attributes the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic and 93,000 drug overdose deaths — an all-time one-year high. Homicide, diabetes, and liver disease were also contributing factors. Here is a look at the states with the most drug overdose deaths in 2020.

While the national trend is alarming, there are parts of the country where life expectancy is far higher than the national average. In Lincoln County, South Dakota, for example, life expectancy at birth is an estimated 84.3 years — about five years longer than the comparable national average of 79.2 years.

Variations in life expectancy across populations are closely linked to a number of factors — and one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy is income level. Poverty presents challenges and stressors that can take a cumulative toll on both physical and mental health. Additionally, lower-income Americans are less able to afford adequate health care and healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that life expectancy among the wealthiest 1% of Americans exceeds that of the poorest 1% by well over a decade.

In Lincoln County, 4.1% of the local population live on poverty-level income, below the comparable 13.4% national poverty rate.

All data on life expectancy came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. All life expectancy figures are averages for the years 2017 through 2019 — the most recent period for which county-level data is available. Poverty rates are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

Counties were excluded if life expectancy data was unavailable, if the confidence interval for the estimate was deemed too large, or if the county’s 2019 five-year population estimate from the Census Bureau was less than 1,000.

 

Rank County Life expectancy at birth (yrs.) Poverty rate (%) Median household income ($)
1 Summit County, CO 98.9 8.0 79,277
2 Pitkin County, CO 94.4 6.7 78,935
3 Liberty County, MT 91.2 16.2 44,875
4 Golden Valley County, ND 90.6 7.5 58,690
5 Oliver County, ND 90.4 8.0 78,929
6 Eagle County, CO 89.4 8.0 84,790
7 Stanley County, SD 89.2 4.7 71,382
8 Presidio County, TX 88.8 39.0 25,098
9 Haines Borough, AK 87.5 11.3 58,059
10 Teton County, WY 87.5 6.1 84,678
11 Manassas Park city, VA 86.5 6.4 88,046
12 San Juan County, WA 86.2 10.2 63,622
13 Sweet Grass County, MT 86.2 5.7 49,886
14 Collier County, FL 86.1 11.2 69,653
15 Ouray County, CO 86.1 7.2 66,417
16 Aleutians West Census Area, AK 86.0 6.8 87,466
17 Arlington County, VA 85.9 6.8 120,071
18 Granite County, MT 85.6 7.9 49,881
19 Park County, CO 85.6 7.3 73,622
20 Fairfax County, VA 85.6 6.1 124,831
21 Steele County, ND 85.6 5.8 70,724
22 Lake County, CO 85.5 14.6 50,565
23 Frontier County, NE 85.5 9.0 54,659
24 Marin County, CA 85.5 7.2 115,246
25 New York County, NY 85.3 15.8 86,553
26 Blaine County, ID 85.3 12.5 56,694
27 Valley County, ID 85.3 7.2 64,475
28 Summit County, UT 85.1 5.6 102,958
29 San Mateo County, CA 85.0 6.7 122,641
30 Grand County, CO 84.9 9.5 71,198
31 Santa Clara County, CA 84.9 7.5 124,055
32 Kidder County, ND 84.8 10.8 54,643
33 Marshall County, SD 84.8 8.5 63,723
34 Loudoun County, VA 84.7 3.4 142,299
35 Gilliam County, OR 84.6 10.4 47,500
36 Montgomery County, MD 84.6 6.8 108,820
37 Hudspeth County, TX 84.5 24.4 31,677
38 Potter County, SD 84.5 7.5 54,583
39 Wayne County, NE 84.3 12.2 56,456
40 Lincoln County, SD 84.3 4.1 82,473
41 Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, AK 84.2 10.3 59,803
42 Jeff Davis County, TX 84.2 3.9 53,088
43 Glades County, FL 84.1 17.4 40,977
44 Queens County, NY 84.1 12.2 68,666
45 Routt County, CO 84.1 10.9 77,443
46 Alexandria city, VA 84.1 10.3 100,939
47 Judith Basin County, MT 84.0 12.7 43,661
48 San Francisco County, CA 84.0 10.3 112,449
49 Burke County, ND 84.0 5.9 77,232
50 Douglas County, CO 84.0 3.1 119,730

 

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