U.S. States With The 10 Shortest & Longest Life Expectancies

When considering where to live, we often look at issues such as weather, cost of living and population levels. But one thing you might not think about is the longevity of people in each state and how it might impact your own future.

Life expectancy can vary greatly from state to state, and while improvements in modern medicine have led to longer lives in general, recent data from the Global Burden of Disease Study seems to indicate that where you live might also have an effect on how long you live.

The study considered issues such as accessibility to health care, obesity, smoking and opioid drug use in compiling their data, as well as death probabilities based on age.

Gulf coast states tended to have higher mortality rates, especially among younger people, while states where there are more health-care programs seem to mean longer lives for their residents.

Here are the states with the 10 shortest and 10 longest life expectancies:

States with the Shortest Life Expectancies

10. Indiana

The midwestern state of Indiana’s life expectancy is 10th lowest at 77.2 years. Infants born in the poorest areas of the state have been found to live only as long as babies born in the United States 60 years ago.

9. South Carolina

South Carolina comes in just under Indiana, with an average lifespan of 76.8. Part of this disparity may stem from the fact that nearly 19 percent of South Carolinians smoke, compared to about half that in California.

8. Tennessee

In Tennessee, the average person lives to be 76.1 years old. Obesity could be part of the issue, as more than half the state has a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 25.

7. Arkansas

In the southern state of Arkansas, residents have an average life expectancy of 75.8 years. Studies indicate that there is a lack of health literacy in the state, meaning people may not have as much access to information about health care as other states.

6. Kentucky

Kentucky ties with its neighbor, Arkansas, also with an average lifespan of 75.8. Kentucky also has one of the highest rates of death by overdose, with approximately 30 deaths per 100,000 people.

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s average lifespan is 75.7 years, putting it right below Kentucky’s ranking. They were also found to have fewer healthy years after age 65 than most other states.

4. Louisiana

Apparently, life in The Big Easy isn’t always so easy. Louisiana’s average life expectancy is 75.6 years. This can vary by zip code, with some neighborhoods having huge inequities in health and education.

3. Alabama

The average lifespan in Alabama is 75.4 years. Alabama also had one of the highest probabilities for death in adults aged 20 to 55.

2. West Virginia

Not quite in last place, but almost, West Virginia’s average life expectancy is 75.3 years. The southwestern portion of the state has a longevity on par with that of developing nations, with contributing factors such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. 

1. Mississippi

Unfortunately, Mississippi comes in last, with an average life expectancy of just 74.7 years. Mississippi was also ranked as having some of the highest death rates for people between the ages of 0 and 20 years.

States with the Highest Life Expectancies

10. Vermont

Ranked 10th in longevity of the states, Vermont’s average lifespan is 79.9 years. Increases in access to health and safety needs, as well as a reduction in obesity levels and smoking has helped to put them in the top 10.

9. Washington

Washington ties with Colorado and New Jersey with an average lifespan of 80.2 years. That’s an increase of more than three percent over the last 28 years.

8. New Jersey

New Jersey’s average is also 80.2 years. Unlike some other states, men and women of all races have showed increased longevity.

7. Colorado

The state of Colorado is known for active and healthy lifestyles, so it’s average lifespan of 80.2 comes as no surprise. Their 20 percent obesity rate is one of the lowest in the country.

6. Massachusetts

In the northeastern state of Massachusetts, people live to an average of 80.4 years. They also have a lower obesity rate than many other states (fifth lowest) and lower rates of smokers (sixth lowest.)

5. New York

If you’ve spent time in New York City, you know that people walk everywhere. The health benefits of all that walking is evident with the state’s average lifespan of 80.5 years.

4. Minnesota

The people of Minnesota are known to be hearty, and with an average lifespan of 80.8, they seem to be doing well on all fronts.

3. Connecticut

Connecticut’s average lifespan is 80.8 years, making it the third highest state for longevity. Lower poverty levels and higher socioeconomic status in some areas may account for the high average.

2. California

California comes in second place, with people living to an average of 80.9 years. The 1995 smoking ban in all enclosed workspaces throughout the state might be part of the reason for increased longevity.

1. Hawaii

Island life is apparently good for your health, with Hawaii coming in as the state with the highest life expectancy. The average lifespan for a resident of Hawaii is 81.3 years, and people living in Hawaii are reported to be less stressed and happier overall.