There has always been a fairly wide difference among states based on longevity. The range, doctors and scientists say, usually has to do with lifestyle. Are people more obese in some states than others? Are they more likely to have heart disease? Are people in a state more likely to smoke? These are among the standard yardsticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released its National Vital Statistics Reports document titled “U.S. State Life Tables, 2018.” The report shows life expectancy by state.
The organization reports its methodology:
The data used to prepare the U.S. state life tables for 2018 are state-specific final numbers of deaths for the year 2018; July 1, 2018 state-specific population estimates based on the 2010 decennial census; and state-specific death and population counts for Medicare beneficiaries aged 66–99 for the year 2018 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Hawaii is the state with the longest life expectancy, at 81 years. Several other states are over 80: California at 80.8, New York at 80.5, Minnesota at 80.5, Connecticut at 80.4 and Massachusetts at 80.1. A number of these states are among those with the highest household incomes. Hawaii ranks third in the nation at $80,212. Massachusetts ranks fourth at $79,835. Connecticut ranks fifth at 76,347, and California ranks sixth at $75,227.
The state with the shortest life expectancy is West Virginia at 74.4. It is followed by Mississippi at 74.6, Alabama at 75.1, Kentucky at 75.3, Tennessee at 75.5, and Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas all at 75.6. Notably, each state is in the bottom 10 in terms of median household income. West Virginia ranks last among all states by the measure at $44.097. Mississippi ranks second from the bottom at $44.717. Arkansas then is at $47,062. Several links have been drawn between low income and longevity.
Women live longer than men do in America, with a national average difference of five years. The state with the largest spread between that age of death between men and women is New Mexico, at 6.2 years. This is followed by Hawaii at 5.9 years, and the same as Alabama. The smallest difference is Utah at 3.8 years. This is followed by Wyoming, Minnesota, Washington and Alaska at 4.2 years. The researchers commented:
With a few exceptions, the states with the largest sex differences are those with lower life expectancy at birth, while the smallest sex differences are found mostly among states with higher life expectancy.
Recently, scientists noted that COVID-19 deaths would move the average age at death of Americans lower. This likely will change when the disease is under control. What is unlikely to change is that the poorest states have the shortest longevity. The people in the states that are worst off are unlikely to get healthier or wealthier soon.