Americans living longer

Released: 
November 18, 2012

Life expectancy is up in the US, averaging 78.7 years. Disparities persist, however, based on geography, wealth, education, race and gender.

If you want to live a long life, it’s good to be born in the USA. Americans born today can expect to live an average of 78.7 years. That’s a dramatic improvement from a century ago, when it was just 51.5 years.

While life expectancy is up across all groups, disparities remain. Poor southern states like Mississippi and Louisiana post the lowest life expectancy. Washington D.C. ranks at the very bottom with an expected lifespan of about 73 years. At the other end, whiter and more affluent states in the North like Minnesota and North Dakota rank high at 79 years. Hawaii is the only state to top 80 years.

Our infographic has more details. And to see how your state fares, check out the state-by-state government figures. Read more in “What Do Others Say,” then add to the discussion below. Should we feel good about the improvements in life expectancy? Or concerned about the disparities?