Wed, Nov 24, 2021 12:03 PM
By Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square, The Center Square
Life expectancy is one of the most important and commonly cited indicators of population health -- and in the United States, life expectancy is falling at a historic rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy at birth declined by 1.5 years in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II.
The CDC attributes the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic and 93,000 drug overdose deaths -- an all-time one-year high. Homicide, diabetes, and liver disease were also contributing factors. Here is a look at the states with the most drug overdose deaths in 2020.
While the national trend is alarming, there are parts of the country where life expectancy is far higher than the national average. In Ouray County, Colorado, for example, life expectancy at birth is an estimated 86.1 years -- about seven years longer than the comparable national average of 79.2 years.
Variations in life expectancy across populations are closely linked to a number of factors -- and one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy is income level. Poverty presents challenges and stressors that can take a cumulative toll on both physical and mental health. Additionally, lower-income Americans are less able to afford adequate health care and healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that life expectancy among the wealthiest 1% of Americans exceeds that of the poorest 1% by well over a decade.
In Ouray County, 7.2% of the local population live on poverty-level income, below the comparable 13.4% national poverty rate.
All data on life expectancy came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program's 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. All life expectancy figures are averages for the years 2017 through 2019 -- the most recent period for which county-level data is available. Poverty rates are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey.
Counties were excluded if life expectancy data was unavailable, if the confidence interval for the estimate was deemed too large, or if the county's 2019 five-year population estimate from the Census Bureau was less than 1,000.
RankCountyLife expectancy at birth (yrs.)Poverty rate (%)Median household income ($)1Summit County, CO98.98.079,2772Pitkin County, CO94.46.778,9353Liberty County, MT91.216.244,8754Golden Valley County, ND90.67.558,6905Oliver County, ND90.48.078,9296Eagle County, CO89.48.084,7907Stanley County, SD89.24.771,3828Presidio County, TX88.839.025,0989Haines Borough, AK87.511.358,05910Teton County, WY87.56.184,67811Manassas Park city, VA86.56.488,04612San Juan County, WA86.210.263,62213Sweet Grass County, MT86.25.749,88614Collier County, FL86.111.269,65315Ouray County, CO86.17.266,41716Aleutians West Census Area, AK86.06.887,46617Arlington County, VA85.96.8120,07118Granite County, MT85.67.949,88119Park County, CO85.67.373,62220Fairfax County, VA85.66.1124,83121Steele County, ND85.65.870,72422Lake County, CO85.514.650,56523Frontier County, NE85.59.054,65924Marin County, CA85.57.2115,24625New York County, NY85.315.886,55326Blaine County, ID85.312.556,69427Valley County, ID85.37.264,47528Summit County, UT85.15.6102,95829San Mateo County, CA85.06.7122,64130Grand County, CO84.99.571,19831Santa Clara County, CA84.97.5124,05532Kidder County, ND84.810.854,64333Marshall County, SD84.88.563,72334Loudoun County, VA84.73.4142,29935Gilliam County, OR84.610.447,50036Montgomery County, MD84.66.8108,82037Hudspeth County, TX84.524.431,67738Potter County, SD84.57.554,58339Wayne County, NE84.312.256,45640Lincoln County, SD84.34.182,47341Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, AK84.210.359,80342Jeff Davis County, TX84.23.953,08843Glades County, FL84.117.440,97744Queens County, NY84.112.268,66645Routt County, CO84.110.977,44346Alexandria city, VA84.110.3100,93947Judith Basin County, MT84.012.743,66148San Francisco County, CA84.010.3112,44949Burke County, ND84.05.977,23250Douglas County, CO84.03.1119,730