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Which State's Residents Live the Longest?

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 14, 2012 -- Hawaiians must be doing something right.

A new report shows residents of the tropical state live longer than those of any other state in the country.

The latest state-specific life expectancy tables from the CDC show Hawaiians' average life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001 was 80 years.

Residents of Mississippi and the District of Columbia didn't fare nearly as well.

Mississippi had the lowest life expectancy of any state at just under 74 years. Life expectancy in the District of Columbia was even lower at 73 years.

Life Expectancy by State

The life expectancy tables are released every 10 years. They're based on federal census and state death certificate data.

The results show that state-specific life expectancy at birth improved for all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1989-1991 to 1999-2001.

Although the District of Columbia had the lowest life expectancy at 73.1 years, it also experienced the biggest improvement since the last report: an increase of more than 5 years.

Wyoming had the smallest improvement from 1989-1991 to 1999-2001, with an increase of less than half a year.

The top five states with the longest life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001 were:

  1. Hawaii - 80.2 years
  2. Minnesota - 79.3 years
  3. North Dakota - 79.1 years
  4. Connecticut - 78.9 years
  5. Utah - 78.9 years

The bottom five states (excluding the District of Columbia) with the shortest life expectancy at birth were:

  • 46. Kentucky - 75.2 years
  • 47. South Carolina - 75 years
  • 48. Alabama - 74.8 years
  • 49. Louisiana - 74.3 years
  • 50. Mississippi - 73.9 years

The full life expectancy tables by state are available at the CDC's web site.

Life Expectancy Improving

The results showed life expectancy at age 65 ranged from a high of 20.4 years in Hawaii to a low of 16.6 years in Kentucky.

The report showed average life expectancy at age 65 also improved in all states, except Kentucky.

The biggest improvement in life expectancy at age 65 was in Arizona (1.6 years). Louisiana had the smallest improvement (0.4 years), and Kentucky actually experienced a decline of half a year in average life expectancy at age 65.

Overall, women had a higher life expectancy in all states and the District of Columbia. The average difference between female and male life expectancy ranged from nine years in the District of Columbia to 3.7 years in Wyoming.

SOURCE: Wei, R. National Vital Statistics Reports, Sept. 14, 2012.

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