The Worst States to Grow Old In

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Source: Thinkstock

46. Arkansas
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 16.3% (16th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 10.5% (7th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 19.2% (3rd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 76.2 years (6th lowest)

Arkansas ranks as one of the worst states to grow old in. Just 42.7% of senior households receive retirement income other than Social Security, the fifth smallest share of any state. The lack of supplemental income can put some seniors at risk of financial hardship, and some 10.5% of state residents 65 and over live in poverty, the seventh largest share in the country. The median household income among seniors is just $34,774 a year, far less than the $42,113 national figure and the third least of any state.

Low educational attainment may also contribute to the low incomes among the elderly. A college education can lead to a high-paying job and help secure higher incomes throughout life. In Arkansas, just 19.2% of residents have a bachelor’s degree, the third smallest share of any state.

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47. Louisiana
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 14.4% (7th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 13.0% (the highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 21.2% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.8 years (3rd lowest)

Just 42.1% of households led by senior citizens in Louisiana receive retirement income other than Social Security, the fourth smallest share of any state. For many older residents who can no longer work, retirement income is necessary to stay out of poverty, and in Louisiana, 13% of adults age 65 and over live in poverty, the largest share of any state. The median household income among state seniors is just $33,632 a year, nearly $8,500 less than the national figure.

Income, particularly in later life, is one of the main determinants of health and longevity. The average resident born in Louisiana is expected to live just 75.8 years, far less than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years. Roughly 4,400 in every 100,000 seniors die every year, among the most of any state.

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48. Alaska
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 10.2% (the lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 4.2% (the lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 31.3% (9th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.4 years (18th lowest)

Alaska has, relatively, the smallest elderly population in the country. Just 10.2% of residents are 65 and older, the smallest share of any state. In addition to it’s less-than-friendly weather, one factor preventing Alaska from becoming a popular retirement destination may be the high cost of living in the state. The majority of Alaska is over 1,000 miles from the U.S. mainland, which can increase the cost of shipping goods to the state. Goods and services are 6% more expensive in Alaska than they are on average nationwide, one of the higher markups nationwide.

Alaska also has the highest violent crime rate of any state, which can reduce the quality of life of all ages. There were 804 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, more than twice the national rate of 397 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

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49. West Virginia
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 18.8% (3rd highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 9.5% (14th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 16.9% (the lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 76.0 years (4th lowest)

By a number of measures related to education, income, and health, West Virginia ranks as the second worst state to grow old in. Just 16.9% of residents age 65 and over have a bachelor’s degree, far less than the 26.7% of seniors nationwide and the smallest share of any state. College attainment is highly correlated with income, and the median household income among seniors in West Virginia is just $36,208 — the fifth lowest of any state.

Income and education are two of the primary determinants of health and longevity. The life expectancy at birth in West Virginia is just 76.0 years, far less than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years. Also, an estimated 4,694 in every 100,000 seniors in the state die every year, the third highest senior mortality rate in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Mississippi
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 15.0% (19th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 12.3% (2nd highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 20.3% (5th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 74.9 years (the lowest)

Mississippi ranks as the worst state to grow old in. Just 44.6% of elderly residents in the state receive retirement income other than Social Security, far less than the 48.8% of older Americans who do. For many seniors in the state, supplemental retirement income may be the difference between poverty and financial security. An estimated 12.3% of state residents 65 and over live in poverty, the second largest share in the country. Overall, the typical senior household earns just $33,026 a year, the least of any state and over $9,000 less than the national median for the age group.

Income is one of the main determinants of health in old age. The average resident born in Mississippi is expected to live just 74.9 years, more than four years less than the average American and the lowest life expectancy of any state.