States Where People Live the Longest

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15. Utah
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.8 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 3.91 years — 12th smallest increase
> Poverty rate: 8.9% — 2nd lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 25.9% — 9th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 8.9% — the lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 13.9% — 6th lowest

Despite declining in ranking for life expectancy of states since 1980, Utah has remained among the states with a higher life expectancy. The state has among the lowest adult obesity and physical inactivity rates.

The state has a fairly large share of uninsured people, which at 9.7% is the 17th highest of all states. People with no health insurance coverage have worse access to health care due to high cost and are less likely to receive care. Additionally, Utah has the third lowest ratio of primary care doctors to population at 58 per 100,000 residents.

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14. Arizona (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.9 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 5.80 years — 12th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 13.5% — 13th highest
> Adult obesity rate: 27.5% — 14th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 15.6% — 16th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 18.6% — 13th highest

Unlike most states with higher than the national average life expectancy at birth, the poverty rate and uninsured rate in Arizona are relatively high. About 13.5% of Arizonans live in poverty, and 11.3% do not have health insurance, the 13th and the ninth highest percentage of all states, respectively.

However, the adult obesity rate, at 27.5%, is lower than the national average of 29.0%, and just about a fifth of adults tend to be physically inactive, also a lower share than the national average.

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13. Rhode Island (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.9 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 5.19 years — 22nd largest increase
> Poverty rate: 10.8% — 18th lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 28.1% — 18th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 14.9% — 13th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 16.4% — 21st lowest

Access to health care may help explain Rhode Island’s ranking among the states with the longer average life expectancy. The smallest state by area has the fourth largest concentration of primary care doctors and the sixth largest concentration of mental health providers per 100,000 people. Additionally, the state has the second lowest share of uninsured residents at just 4.1%.

The state’s adult smoking and obesity rates are slightly below the national rates of 28.0% and 18.0%, respectively.

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12. Vermont
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.0 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 5.50 years — 15th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 10.2% — 15th lowest
> Adult obesity rate: 26.3% — 10th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 15.8% — 19th lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 13.1% — 2nd lowest

Vermont’s life expectancy at birth in 1980 was higher than most other states. Since then, it has improved faster than most states, rising by 5.5 years, the 15th largest increase.

Good access to health services across a population often translates to better health outcomes because of the better odds of treating chronic health issues and catching serious health problems early. No state has more primary care physicians per capita than Vermont, where for every 100,000 people there are 113 doctors. The concentration of mental health providers, at 457 per 100,000, is fourth highest of all states.

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11. Florida (tied)
> Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.1 years
> Increase in life expectancy, 1980-2014: 6.13 years — 7th largest increase
> Poverty rate: 12.7% — 19th highest
> Adult obesity rate: 26.6% — 13th lowest
> Adult smoking rate: 16.1% — 22nd lowest
> Adults in poor or fair health: 17.5% — 23rd highest

A person born in Florida in 2015 is expected to live 80.1 years, compared to the average life expectancy at birth in the state of 74.0 in 1980. The state has had one of the larger improvements in life expectancy, increasing by 6.1 years over the last 35 years.

While socioeconomic factors like health insurance coverage rates and median household income frequently help explain differences in life expectancy, this is not always the case. In Florida, 13.2% of people are uninsured, unusually high for a state with a relatively long life expectancy at birth. What may help explain the Sunshine State’s long life expectancy are residents’ avoidance of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking. The state rates for both are lower than the national averages.