There are 3,141 counties in the United States. Data from all these counties is compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics. Researchers examined data to figure out if life expectancy has increased consistently in all counties. What they found was that starting in the 1980s, life expectancy began to stabilize or even decline for about 4% of men and 19% of women.
Life Expectancy Declines in the SouthThe largest declines in life expectancy were seen in the southern United States, including Appalachia, the whole Southeast, Texas and along the Mississippi River. These areas also have the highest rates of diabetes and obesity in the country. The regions that gained the most in life expectancy typically were in the Northeast and the Pacific Coast.
How Different is the Life Expectancy in U.S. Counties?In the top counties of the United States, life expectancy is 11 years more for men and 9 years more for women when compared with the counties with the lowest life expectancy. Some of the factors that influence these changes in life expectancy are income, race and progression of certain diseases.
The researchers said that in counties with a higher population of African-Americans, life expectancy declined more due to a higher prevalence of certain chronic diseases. Most of the deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease (the No. 1 killer in the United States). There were also increases in cancer and diabetes deaths for women. As these chronic illnesses continue to grow in the United States, we can expect to see more decreases in life expectancy. Some people even think that, for the first time in history, our children will have shorter life expectancies than their parents.
Source: Majid Ezzati, Ari B. Friedman, Sandeep C. Kulkarni, Christopher J. L. Murray. The Reversal of Fortunes: Trends in County Mortality and Cross-County Mortality Disparities in the United States. PLoS Medicine Vol. 5, No. 4, e66.
Majid Ezzati, Ari B. Friedman, Sandeep C. Kulkarni, Christopher J. L. Murray. The Reversal of Fortunes: Trends in County Mortality and Cross-County Mortality Disparities in the United States. PLoS Medicine Vol. 5, No. 4, e66.