States Where People Live the Longest

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

25. Illinois
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.3 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 6.05 years — 9th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 11.5% — 25th lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 29.7% — 22nd lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 15.5% — 15th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 17.2% — 25th lowest

Illinois’ average life expectancy has improved by just more than six years over the last four decades — the ninth largest improvement in the country.

The Prairie State has higher than average concentrations of primary care doctors and dentists per 100,000 residents, and a lower than the national average adult smoking rate. However, the share of adults drinking excessively is high (21.4%, sixth highest in the country), as is the share of preventable hospitalizations (5,092 per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, the 11th highest rate).

Source: christiannafzger / iStock via Getty Images

24. Idaho (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.4 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 4.19 years — 13th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 11.2% — 21st lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 29.3% — 21st lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 14.3% — 10th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 14.6% — 12th lowest

Idaho’s life expectancy rank has dropped significantly since 1980, from the seventh highest to tied for 22nd highest as the improvement of over four years was the 13th smallest of all states.

While the shares of adults smoking and drinking excessively are slightly lower than their respective national averages, and the share of adults who are obese is in line with the national adult obesity rate, the share of state residents who lack health insurance is higher than the national share. About 10.8% of residents are uninsured compared to 9.2% of Americans nationwide. Research has shown that uninsured adults have worse access to care, receive poorer quality of care, and experience worse health outcomes than insured adults.

Source: peeterv / iStock via Getty Images

23. South Dakota (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.4 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 4.53 years — 22nd smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 11.9% — 23rd highest
> Adult obesity rate: 31.8% — 20th highest
> Adult smoking rate: 19.3% — 14th highest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 13.4% — 4th lowest

South Dakota’s average life expectancy at birth rank compared to other states has significantly declined, from the 13th highest life expectancy in 1980 to 22nd highest just 35 years later as the improvement in life expectancy was 22nd smallest.

Adults in the state report among the fewest mentally and physically unhealthy days a month. The state also has the fourth lowest share of adults who report being in poor health. The state has a percentage of alcohol-related deaths — 36.7% of driving deaths involve alcohol, the fourth highest share in the country.

Source: krblokhin / iStock via Getty Images

22. Virginia (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.4 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 6.26 years — 5th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 9.9% — 11th lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 29.8% — 23rd lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 16.4% — 23rd lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 15.8% — 19th lowest

Compared to 1980, life expectancy at birth has risen in all states. The improvement in Virginia has been especially large. A Virginia newborn in 1980 was expected to live 73.1 years, the 15th lowest expectancy among states at that time. Today, the state’s life expectancy at birth of 79.4 years is in the higher half of states.

Virginia’s relatively long life expectancy at birth, while still lower than 21 states, can be attributed, in part, to high college attainment and high incomes in the state, both factors shown to improve health and life expectancy in populations. Of adults in the state, 39.6% have at least a bachelor’s degree, the sixth highest college attainment rate of all states. The typical household in the state has an annual income of $76.456, 10th highest in the nation.

Source: SWKrullImaging / iStock via Getty Images

21. Iowa (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.6 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 3.90 years — 11th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 11.2% — 21st lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 33.2% — 9th highest
> Adult smoking rate: 17.1% — 25th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 14.5% — 11th lowest

Iowa had one of the smallest life expectancy improvements between 1980 and 2015, and as a result, its ranking dropped, from fifth highest in 1980 to 21st highest in 2015.

The Hawkeye State has a high adult obesity rate as well as a high excessive drinking rate. At 33.2%, Iowa’s adult obesity rate is the ninth highest among all states, and at 22.1%, Iowa’s share of adults who report excessive drinking is the third largest.