Where Americans Live Longest — and Die Earliest

Life expectancy depends on many factors, but this study shows that it varies a lot from place to place in this country. See how your state ranks.

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Many things affect individual longevity — genetics, smoking, drinking alcohol, lack of nutrition, stress and the luck of the draw to name a few. But as a recent study suggests, the life expectancy in different states varies pretty dramatically when you look at the population as a whole.

In April, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that ranks life expectancy at birth for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. They found that those born in the top-scoring state can expect to live 6.5 years longer than those in the lowest.

“There are wide differences in the burden of disease at the state level,” the study notes. “Specific diseases and risk factors, such as drug use disorders, high BMI, poor diet, high fasting plasma glucose level, and alcohol use disorders are increasing and warrant increased attention. These data can be used to inform national health priorities for research, clinical care, and policy.”

So it’s not that being born in (spoiler!) Mississippi shaves years off of your life, it’s that Mississippi residents have higher rates of behaviors that tend to shorten a lifespan.

Here’s the list from lowest to highest for life expectancy at birth as of 2016, the most recent year for which the study had data.


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