The places with the lowest life expectancies are in the Mississippi Valley, parts of Alabama, West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and then some of the Native American reservations like Pine Ridge and Rosebud in South Dakota. The team concluded that a difference of 20.1 years existed between the USA counties having the highest average life expectancy and those having the lowest. Chicago-area counties were more likely to have higher life expectancies than those in rural areas of IL. The more recent study shows the disparity continues to increase, and the researchers suggest a complex combination of factors is involved.
Experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle, evaluated the mortality rates of people across the usa, assessing life expectancy for individual counties. Several counties in these states and others saw decreases in life expectancy since 1980, while much of the country experienced increases. The highest was along the Aleutians islands along the coast, with an 18.3% increase in longevity, from 70 years to 83 years.
But, as noted, those gains weren’t shared across the country. In total, there was a 20-year difference between the longest and shortest life expectancies. Summit County has an 8.7 per cent poverty rate, 35.5 per cent lower than that of Oglala Lakota County, and the median income is more than twice as high. South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota County, whose population is nearly entirely Native American, comes in at 66.8 years.
Life expectancy in New York County, or Manhattan, rose from 71 years in 1980 to 81.8 years in 2014, an increase of almost 11 years or 15.2 percent, the third biggest increase in the nation.
Minnesota’s counties fell somewhere in between. “T$3 his study found that socioeconomic and race/ethnicity factors alone explained 60% of the variation in life expectancy“, said the researchers.
A new study reveals a sharp decline in life expectancy in eight Eastern Kentucky counties.
“Tracking inequality at the county level over time is an important means of assessing progress toward the goal of more equitable health outcomes“, the study authors wrote. Furthermore, inequities in the risk of dying early rose for all adults, although particularly for those age 65 to 85.
“If you level the playing field when it comes to these risk factors, you can eliminate 74 percent of disparities”, Mokdad said. Health-care access and quality explained 27 percent of the inequities.
The authors of the JAMA paper report that the differences in counties across the nation can be explained by socioeconomic and race factors, behavior, and (to a lesser extent) health care differences.
And although Lake County is outperforming many other areas in IL at the county level, more granular local data shows health outcomes within the county itself are similarly unbalanced across ZIP codes.
“Everybody, in Europe and elsewhere, is increasing life expectancy at a greater pace than we are”, he added, “so that’s also disappointing and not acceptable for a country like the USA …” The United States, he said, needs to rethink how it delivers medical care, with a much greater investment in prevention, and a more holistic approach to creating healthy communities. A new study from JAMA Internal Medicine shows, however, that one of the biggest X-factors may be simple geography. Examining life expectancy by county allows for tracking geographic disparities over time and assessing factors related to these disparities.