Health and Science

Here are the states with the longest and shortest life expectancies, according to the CDC

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Key Points
  • If you're born in the American South, the chances of living a long life aren't as high as the rest of the United States, according to newly released data from the CDC.
  • The findings published Thursday examined state-level death and population estimates from 2018.
  • Americans are expected to live an average of 78.7 years, though women were more likely to outlive men by five years nationwide, according to the report.
A soybean farmer in Mississippi County, Arkansas.
The Washington Post | Getty Images

If you're born in the South, chances are you'll have a shorter life expectancy compared with the rest of the United States, according to newly released data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

The findings, published in the National Vital Statistics Reports, examined state-level mortality and population estimates from 2018, as well as state-specific death and population figures for older Medicare beneficiaries that year.

The CDC found that Americans are expected to live an average of 78.7 years, though women were more likely to outlive men by five years nationwide, according to the report. States in the South fared worse when compared with their Northeastern and Western counterparts.

West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina and Missouri all ranked in the bottom 10 states for life expectancy, respectively, the CDC found. West Virginia, which had an average life expectancy of 74.4 years, ranked the lowest for both men and women.

"With a few exceptions, the states with the largest sex differences are those with lower life expectancy at birth, while the smallest sex differences are found mostly among states with higher life expectancy," CDC researchers wrote in the report.

Meanwhile, Hawaii took the top spot for the state with the highest average life expectancy at 81 years. The Aloha State was followed by California, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, New Jersey and Rhode Island to round out the top 10 states where you'll live the longest.

The CDC's latest life expectancy figures come about a month after the agency published a provisional report in February that found life expectancy during the Covid pandemic fell by a year in the first half of 2020 — the biggest decline since World War II.

According to that report, the CDC's prediction of life expectancy for Americans at birth in 2020 was 77.8 years.


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— Reuters contributed to this report.