States Where People Live the Longest

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20. Nebraska
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.4 years
> Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.4 years (6th highest)
> 1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.1 years (17th smallest)

Nebraska’s life expectancy at birth ranking over the last four decades has dropped significantly, from sixth highest in 1980 to 20th highest in 2015. Some 21.1% of state adult residents report excessive drinking, the fifth highest share of all states and higher than the national share. Similarly, the state’s adult obesity rate is higher than the national share. These factors might be contributing to the state’s decline in ranking.

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19. Arizona
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years
> Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.1 years (23rd highest)
> 1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.4 years (14th largest)

Unlike most states with higher-than-average life expectancy at birth, the poverty rate and uninsured rate in Arizona are relatively high. Nearly 15% of Arizonans live in poverty, and more than 10% do not have health insurance, each the 11th highest percentage of all states.

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18. Oregon
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years
> Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.8 years (15th highest)
> 1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.8 years (25th largest)

Just as lack of access to medical care can adversely affect life expectancy, a strong health system can help explain a relatively high life expectancy. For every 100,000 Oregon residents, there are 95 primary care physicians, 81 dentists, and 454 mental health providers — all in the top 10 compared to all states.

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17. Wisconsin
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years
> Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.2 years (9th highest)
> 1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.3 years (21st smallest)

At 26.1%, no other state has a higher share of adults who drink excessively than Wisconsin. Defined as having at least five drinks during one occasion for men and four for women, excessive drinking has been linked to higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems, all of which can lead to premature death. The state’s adult obesity rate of 30.6% is higher than the national rate of 28.0%.

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16. Iowa
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years
> Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.7 years (5th highest)
> 1980-2015 life expectancy change: 3.8 years (12th smallest)

Iowa had one of the smallest life expectancies improvement between 1980 and 2015, and as a result, its ranking dropped, from fifth highest in 1980 to 16th highest in 2015. The Hawkeye State would likely benefit from a lower adult obesity rate as well as having adults exercise more and drink less. All three measures compare poorly relative to all states.