The U.S. death rate rose last year for the first time in a decade. This led to the first drop in life expectancy since 1993. The typical American in 2015 can expect to live 78.8 years, down slightly from 78.9 years in 2014. Heart disease and cancer remain the leading cause of deaths in the United States.
To highlight how life expectancy trends vary across the United States, 24/7 Wall St. listed the city in every state with the longest life expectancy at birth. Looking at all U.S. metro areas, life expectancy is highest in Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida, where life expectancy at birth is 83.5 years. In contrast, residents in Gadsden, Alabama have a life expectancy more than 10 years shorter.
> Metro area: Boston-Cambridge-Newton
> Life expectancy: 81.1 yrs.
> Obesity rate: 22.9%
> Median household income: $78,800
Wealthier individuals tend to be healthier, and poorer individuals less healthy. In the poorer end of the income spectrum, especially for those living in poverty, income has an outsized impact on health. Adults living in poverty are nearly five times more likely to report being in poor or fair health than more affluent adults. The cities on this list tend to have higher household incomes and a smaller share of residents living in poverty than metro areas with shorter life expectancies. Poverty rates are lower than the national level in two-thirds of the 50 cities.
Another common trend among the cities with the longest life expectancy in their state is the tendency to report healthier behaviors than among cities with shorter life expectancies. In cities with shorter life expectancies, inactivity and unhealthy eating and unhealthy eating habits contribute to higher obesity rates. As an area’s obesity rate increases, the risk of life-shortening diseases also increases. Obesity rates in the majority of cities with the longest life expectancy in their state are lower than the nationwide obesity rate.
While every city on this list has the longest life expectancy in their state, these life expectancies are not necessarily long in a national context. For example, because life expectancy is so low in Alabama, even in Daphne-Fairhope-Foley — the metro area with the longest life expectancy in the state — residents are expected to live shorter lives than the typical American.
To determine the metropolitan areas in each state where people live the longest, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2013 county-level life expectancy at birth figures provided by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a global research center affiliated with the University of Washington. The data came from the report, “United States Life Expectancy Estimates by County 1985-2013.” Using death records data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers applied a mixed effects Poisson statistical model and Gaussian Process Regression to estimate age-specific mortality rates for U.S. counties from 1985 to 2013.
To obtain metro area life expectancy estimates, we mapped the counties to their corresponding metro areas and calculated the average life expectancy by sex across all counties in a given metro area. County estimates were weighted by 2013 5-year population figures from the American Community Survey (ACS). To ensure 2008 and 2013 life expectancy estimates were comparable, both estimates were weighted by populations in 2013.
Metro-level median household income came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Obesity rates came from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.