(NEW YORK) — A new federal report published Thursday has revealed the life expectancy of Americans in every state.
Researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics — a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — looked at deaths rates in 2019, the last year for which complete data is available, for each state and the District of Columbia.
For the U.S. overall, life expectancy was 78.8 years in 2019, an increase of 0.1 years from 2018.
States with the highest life expectancy were mostly in the Northeast and West states while states with the lowest life expectancy were Southern states.
“The fact that there can be such large differences in life expectancy within one country, that’s what I find most interesting,” Dr. Elizabeth Arias, director of U.S. Life Tables at NCHS and first author of the study, told ABC News.
Hawaiians had the highest life expectancy at birth in 2019, living to nearly 81 years old.
The Aloha State also led the U.S. in highest life expectancy for women at 83.9 years.
Rounding out the top five were California, New York, Minnesota and Massachusetts, respectively. California had the highest life expectancy for males in 2019 at 78.4 years.
Meanwhile, residents of Mississippi had the lowest life expectancy, at 74.4 years old, and the lowest for males at 71.2 years.
The bottom five states were all in the South and included West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. West Virginia had the lowest life expectancy for women at 77.3 years.
However, the report found life expectancy was higher for women in every single state and in Washington, D.C.
In the United States, the difference in life expectancy between the sexes was 5.1 years. Utah had the lowest difference at 4.5 years and Mississippi had the highest at 6.4 years.
Arias said the gap used to be higher — about 7.8 years in 1978 — but has been declining.
“The wide gap was believed to be highly associated with smoking,” she said. “So, males took up smoking a lot earlier than females did and with a much higher prevalence. But then, over the decades, females began to smoke close to levels that men smoked. And, as men have been quitting, women have followed but not at the same pace.”
The report also found that between 2018 and 2019, life expectancy declined in 14 states, ranging from 0.1 years to 0.5 years.
Five states had no change and 31 states and Washington, D.C., saw increases between 0.1 years and 0.5 years.
The report also examined life expectancy after age 65, when adults are considered senior citizens.
Once again, Hawaii and Mississippi had the highest and lowest life expectancy projections at 21.2 additional years and 17.5 additional years, respectively.
The report did not discuss why some states have lower life expectancy than others, but Arias offered some theories.
“Well, we do know that mortality from the leading causes of death like heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, tends to be higher in the states in the South and the Southeast than in New England, for instance, and the Western states,” she said. “Smoking prevalence is also higher in the Southern states. I believe there are also higher rates of poverty throughout [the South].”
Additionally, the report did not include any data from 2020 onward, meaning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not reflected in the new numbers.
However, preliminary data has shown the global health emergency caused life expectancy in America to drop dramatically.
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