State-by-State Study of 2020 Mortality Rates Finds Declines in Life Expectancy Across the Country
8/30/22 – – There was very little media coverage of a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that should have gotten a lot more attention.
If you believe the numbers reported by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics — and who wouldn’t trust the government agency that brilliantly shepherded us through the COVID-19 pandemic — our lives have gotten shorter. And depending on what state you live in, you may have lost as much as three full years.
According to the CDC, the average American’s life expectancy decreased in 2020 by 1.8 years, from 78.8 to 77.0. That’s the largest one-year drop since World War II. All 50 states and Washington D.C. suffered declines, with New Yorkers shedding the most time on Earth at 3.0 years, and residents of Hawaii seeing the most modest decline at 0.2 years.
The reasons offered for this dramatic change include COVID-19 deaths as well as increased rates of drug overdoses (fentanyl and other addictive opioids are the primary culprits), suicide and heart disease.
Women are still living longer than men. The average life expectancy at birth for females is 79.9 years, and for men it’s 74.2. The study found the largest difference between male and female longevity in Washington D.C, where women are living on average 7.0 more years than men. The state with the smallest difference is Utah, where women get just 3.9 more years than men to enjoy the mountain views and Great Salt Lake.
The CDC did not offer any explanation for the gender differences. (As a crisis counselor, I applaud their good judgement.)
If you’re still working remotely and can live wherever you want, consider America’s West Coast and New England regions. Here are the top 10 states with the highest life expectancies:
- Hawaii (80.7)
- Washington (79.2)
- Minnesota (79.1)
- California (79.0)
- Massachusetts (79.0)
- New Hampshire (79.0)
- Vermont (78.8)
- Oregon (78.8)
- Utah 78.6)
- Connecticut (78.4)
If you need more time to finish your first novel or get your invention featured on Shark Tank, you should probably stay away from southern states and parts of the Midwest. Here are the CDC’s bottom 10, where life really is too short:
42. South Carolina (74.8)
43. New Mexico (74.5)
44. Oklahoma (74.1)
45. Arkansas (73.8)
46. Tennessee (73.8)
47. Kentucky (73.5)
48. Alabama (73.2)
49. Louisiana (73.1)
50. West Virginia (72.8)
51. Mississippi (71.9)
I guess I understand why this study merited so few headlines. Basically, the CDC is telling us we’re all still going to die; just sooner. Not much news there. But, as a New York baby boomer, I’m not waiting to hear about another three-year decline. This may be a good time to log onto Zillow and check out home prices on Maui.