Report: 20-Year Regional Disparities in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy may be rising in the nation as a whole, but in some areas it's going down. Regional gaps are widening.

1 minute read

May 11, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Hospital Signs

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A new report on American health reveals startling regional health differences. Joel Achenbach writes, "Life expectancy is greatest in the high country of central Colorado, but in many pockets of the United States, life expectancy is more than 20 years lower, according to the report from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation."

The research suggests that the U.S. is failing to keep up with other wealthy nations on life expectancy. A look at the county-by-county data reveals where that's the case (and where it's not). "Of the 10 counties where life expectancy has dropped the most since 1980, eight are in Kentucky. The other two are in Oklahoma and Alabama [...] The areas with the worst mortality metrics include central Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta and areas in the Dakotas with large Native American populations."

Since 1980, the places with most improved life expectancy include "a number of remote locations in Alaska, including the North Slope and the Aleutian Islands, and the boroughs of Manhattan (a.k.a. 'New York County') and Brooklyn (Kings County), as well as San Francisco."

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