Where Americans Live Longest — and Die Earliest

golden years
goodluz / Shutterstock.com

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.

51. Mississippi

Fishing boats in Biloxi, Mississippi
CrackerClips Stock Media / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 74.7 years

The Magnolia State landed at the bottom of the list. The average life expectancy for those born in Mississippi is 6.5 years less than those born in the state that tops the rankings. It’s the only state with an average life expectancy below 75 years.

50. West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.3 years

Residents of West Virginia don’t live much longer, on average, than those in Mississippi, but the life expectancy there does manage to top 75 years.

49. Alabama

Beach chairs on beach
Darryl Vest / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.4 years

Mississippi’s neighbor, Alabama, is third from the bottom of the list with an average life expectancy for its residents of 75.4 years, just slightly longer than West Virginia.

48. Louisiana

New Orleans street scene
Michael Rosebrock / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.4 years

Louisiana, home of lively New Orleans, sits with many of its Southern neighbors near the bottom of the list, also with an average life expectancy of 75.4 years.

47. Oklahoma

Oklahoma Route 66
Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.7 years

Residents of the Sooner State of Oklahoma have an average life expectancy of 75.7 years.

46. Kentucky

Woman petting horse
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.8 years

The Bluegrass State of Kentucky, a horse racing haven, has residents who live an average of 75.8 years.

45. Arkansas

Man fishing in Arkansas lake
Bonita R. Cheshier / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 75.8 years

Arkansas is tied with Kentucky with an average life expectancy of 75.8 years.

44. Tennessee

Street scene, Memphis, Tennessee.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 76.1 years

Residents of Tennessee, home to the Music City of Nashville, have an average life expectancy of 76.1 years.

43. South Carolina

Charleston Market crowded with visitors.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 76.8 years

Scenic South Carolina, the Palmetto State, has residents who live an average of 76.8 years.

42. Indiana

Parade in Indianapolis for Indy 500
Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.2 years

Indiana, home of the world-famous Indianapolis 500, is the first state to motor above an average life expectancy of 77 years, coming in at 77.2 years.

41. Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.4 years

The Peach State of Georgia’s average life expectancy comes in at 77.4 years.

40. Missouri

Lane V. Erickson / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.4 years

Residents in Midwestern Missouri join those in Southern Georgia in having an average life expectancy of 77.4 years.

39. Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio skyline at dusk.
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.5 years

Residents of the Buckeye State of Ohio have an average life expectancy of 77.5 years.

38. New Mexico

Hot air balloons in New Mexico
Tim Pleasant / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.8 years

Homer Simpson once exclaimed, “There’s a NEW Mexico?” There is indeed. Residents of this Southwestern state have an average life expectancy of 77.8 years.

37. North Carolina

Wilmington, North Caroline seaside walkway
J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 77.9 years

North Carolinians live, on average, more than a year longer than their neighbors in South Carolina.

36. Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78 years

It’s not a state, but the study still included the nation’s capital. Residents there have an average life expectancy of an even 78 years.

35. Michigan

Kenneth Keifer / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78 years

Like folks in Washington, D.C., Michigan residents’ average life expectancy is an even 78 years.

34. Alaska

Sitka, Alaska waterfront, mountains in background.
Marc Cappelletti / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.1 years

33. Nevada

Business Stock / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.1 years

Don’t gamble with your health in Nevada, home of the nation’s gaming and casino capital. Residents there have an average life expectancy of 78.1 years.

32. Wyoming

People kayaking on a lake with a mountain in the background.
B Brown / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.4 years

Folks from Wyoming’s western mountains to its eastern plains have an average life expectancy of 78.4 years.

31. Texas

Traffic in Austin, Texas
Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.5 years

Residents of the Lone Star State of Texas can expect an average life expectancy of 78.5 years.

30. Kansas

People in Kansas looking at large pumpkin
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.5 years

Like folks who live in Texas, Kansas residents have an average life expectancy of 78.5 years.

29. Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.5 years

Making it a three-way tie, Pennsylvania is the third state with an average life expectancy of 78.5 years.

28. Delaware

Delaware
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.6 years

Delaware earned its nickname “The First State” in 1787, when it was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Residents there have an average life expectancy of 78.6 years.

27. Montana

Men on horses in mountains
outdoorsman / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 78.9 years

The Big Sky Country of Montana is about mid-pack when it comes to life expectancy, with 78.9 years.

26. Maine

Portland, Maine
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79 years

Folks living in picturesque Maine, the state at the nation’s northeast tip, have an average life expectancy of an even 79 years.

25. South Dakota

visionteller / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.1 years

It’s not carved in stone, but South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore, has an average life expectancy of 79.1 years.

24. Illinois

pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.1 years

Residents of Illinois, home to the Windy City of Chicago, also have an average life expectancy of 79.1 years.

23. Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.1 years

Idaho joins Illinois and South Dakota in a three-way tie with an average life expectancy of 79.1 years.

22. Virginia

Pedestrians in Alexandria, Virginia
Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.2 years

Virginia, known as the Mother of Presidents because eight U.S. presidents were born there, has an average life expectancy of 79.2 years.

21. Maryland

U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.2

The Old Line State of Maryland also has an average life expectancy of 79.2 years.

20. Nebraska

Omaha at night.
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.4 years
Residents of the Cornhusker State of Nebraska have an average life expectancy of 79.4 years.

19. Arizona

Aerial view of Scottsdale Arizona
Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.5 years

Folks who live in sunny Arizona — where it may be hot, but at least it’s a “dry heat” — have an average life expectancy of 79.5 years.

18. Wisconsin

Seniors in Wisconsin with banner
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.5 years

Residents of Wisconsin, whether cheese lovers or not, also have an average life expectancy of 79.5 years.

17. Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.5 years

Iowa residents join those in nearby Wisconsin and far-off Arizona in having an average life expectancy of 79.5 years.

16. Oregon

Bridge over Willamette River, Oregon
JPL Designs / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.5 years

Out in the Pacific Northwest, a fourth state, Oregon, can boast that its residents have an average life expectancy of 79.5 years.

15. Florida

Miami
GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.6 years

Sunshiny Florida, where many older Americans move after retirement, has an average life expectancy of 79.6 years.

14. Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah
Joe Guetzloff / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.6 years

The Western state of Utah also has an average life expectancy of 79.6 years.

13. Rhode Island

Enfi / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.6 years

Residents of tiny Rhode Island, the smallest state by area, join those in Florida and Utah with an average life expectancy of 79.6 years.

12. North Dakota

North Dakota
ZakZeinert / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.8 years

North Dakotans have an average life expectancy of 79.8 years, higher than their neighbors in South Dakota.

11. New Hampshire

Nashua, New Hampshire
Jon Bilou / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.9 years

New Hampshire ties with North Dakota in having an average life expectancy of 79.9 years.

10. Vermont

Colin D. Young / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 79.9 years

The Green Mountain State of Vermont has an average life expectancy of 79.9 years, the same as North Dakota and Vermont’s own neighbor, New Hampshire.

9. Washington

MCarter / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.2 years

The Evergreen State of Washington is the first state on the list with an average life expectancy over 80 years, coming in at 80.2.

8. New Jersey

Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.2 years

New Jersey residents also live longer than eight decades, on average, joining folks a continent away in Washington with a life expectancy of 80.2 years.

7. Colorado

EdgeOfReason / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.2 years

Between Washington and New Jersey is another state, Colorado, whose residents have average life expectancy of 80.2 years.

6. Massachusetts

Boston Harbor Hotel / Money Talks News

Average life expectancy: 80.4 years

The Bay State of Massachusetts boasts residents with an average life expectancy of 80.4 years.

5. New York

Fourth of July party
rozbyshaka / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.5 years

New York, the Empire State, and home of the City That Never Sleeps, has an average life expectancy of 80.5 years. Just four states left to go!

4. Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota
nikitsin.smugmug.com / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.8 years

Scenic Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, has an average life expectancy of 80.8 years. Perhaps all those cold winters keep people there moving enough to get extra exercise?

3. Connecticut

City scene of Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.8 years

Not as cold as Minnesota, Connecticut also has an average life expectancy of 80.8 years.

2. California

People at fresh market in Oakland, California
cdrin / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 80.9 years

The Golden State of California climbed almost to the top of the list, with residents who have an average life expectancy of 80.9 years.

1. Hawaii

aines / Shutterstock.com

Average life expectancy: 81.3 years

And at the top of the list, with an average life expectancy of 81.3 years, is the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Is there a better place to enjoy a long life than on Hawaii’s beautiful beaches?

Where does your state fall in the rankings? Do you think your lifestyle is pretty typical in your state? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

7 Secret Departments of Amazon You Should Know About
7 Secret Departments of Amazon You Should Know About

These little-known sections of Amazon are hidden gems for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down
The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down

The good news: It’s possible to avoid potentially devastating falls.

10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments

Here are 10 things that could mean less money in your pocket during retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom

Largely asymptomatic seniors may experience a symptom not commonly associated with the coronavirus.

18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today
18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash
8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.