22.05.2024

The 25 US counties with the longest life expectancy revealed

If you want to live well into your eighties, you should consider relocating to Colorado. Data shows eight out of the top 10 counties for life expectancy are in the rocky mountain state.

But the leader in life expectancy is actually Aleutians East Borough in Alaska, a 3,000-strong fishing community whose residents regularly live beyond 100. It is followed by Mono County, California, where people also live beyond triple digits.

The list of 25 counties reflects lifespan data from 2018 to 2020 collected by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program.

Most of the states included have many rural areas. And while the top 25 counties ranged in population size, but the top scorers on the list skewed smaller

It is a set of rankings compiled every year by a team at the University of Wisconsin that measures vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births in nearly every county in America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also measures life expectancies annually, but relies on provisional death counts based on death records.

Most of the states included have many rural areas. And while the top 25 counties ranged in population size, but the top scorers on the list skewed smaller

The rankings show how long a person born today can expect to live. Counties where people lived longest were in Alaska, California, Colorado, South Dakota, Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, Wyoming, Washington, Florida, and Utah.

They were published last week by US News and World Reports.

Overall life expectancy in the US has suffered a major hit in recent years, attributed to Covid, the rising fentanyl epidemic and gun violence.

Today, the average American can expect to live to be about 76 years old, the lowest age since 1996 and behind much of the developed world.

Most of the counties bucking the trend are situated in states with rural areas, which often translates to cleaner air and sometimes even less stress than urban areas.

Researchers from the University Louisville in 2021 found that people who live in settings with more greenery can expect to live healthier, longer lives.

They followed more than 5 million cancer patients for 13 years, and their findings indicated that people residing in greener counties lived longer than those in urban areas.

The Aleutian East Borough encompasses the southwestern Alaskan Peninsula and portions of the Aleutian Islands.

10 US counties with the highest life expectancies
  1. Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, 100+ years
  2. Mono County, California, 100+ years
  3. San Miguel County, Colorado, 93.6 years
  4. Summit County, Colorado, 93.5 years
  5. Pitkin County, Colorado, 92.5 years
  6. Stanley County, South Dakota, 91.9 years
  7. Manassas Park, Virginia, 91.6 years
  8. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska, 91.5 years
  9. Golden Valley County, North Dakota, 91.4 years
  10. Eagle County, Colorado, 91.4 years

The fishing community has been home to Aleut Native Alaskans since the last ice age. About 37 percent of residents are Alaska Native people.

The county is largely remote and commercial fishing dominates the economy there. It has seen a higher-than-average life span for years. Between 1980 and 2014, the life expectancy rose by more than 18 percent.

Summit and Pitkin counties in Colorado are regular high-scorers in life expectancy.

With relatively high average household incomes ranging from $90k to $101k per year and reliable access to healthcare, people can expect to live beyond 94 years.

In all, counties in Colorado took spots three, four, five, 10, 16, 17, 21 and 22.

Even the lowest scorer on the list, Arlington County, Virginia, had an average life expectancy years longer than the national average, about 85 years versus 78 overall.

The top 25 counties ranged in population size, but the top scorers on the list skewed smaller.

Taking the no. 2 spot was Mono County, California, the fourth-least densely populated county in the state with an average life expectancy of 101.

Stanley County in South Dakota, with a population of around 3,000, took sixth place with an average life expectance of 91 years, followed by Manassas Park, Virginia whose residents can expect to live beyond 86 years on average.

Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska, about 550 miles southwest from top-scoring Aleutian East Borough, took eight place with a life expectance of around 91.5 years, while ninth place went to Golden Valley County, North Dakota, home to fewer than 1,800 people.

Eagle County, Colorado, home to some of the US’ most popular ski resorts, rounded out the top 10. There, people can expect to live well past their 91st birthday.

The majority of remaining counties on the list with some exceptions such as Arlington in Virginia lean more rural, though it’s difficult to find a common thread among all of the places.

Alaska and North Dakota, both well-represented on the list, are among the top spenders on healthcare per person in the US, though that does not necessarily translate to better healthcare.

Socioeconomic factors, a combination of poverty, income, education levels achieved, unemployment rates, and race all come together to dictate the makeup of a county and how healthy it is.

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