5 counties with the shortest life spans

Location has plenty to do with how long you might live. Here's where you don't want to call home.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 12, 2013 1:43PM

Hand holding stethoscope to map of the United States (© Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images)If your ZIP code falls within some areas of Mississippi, you might just have the same life expectancy as someone born in Bangladesh. 


While it's true Americans generally are living longer, there's a huge disparity in expected life span based on which county you live in, according to a new study


The gap is striking, given that the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than all other countries, yet many areas of America suffer from poor health, according to researchers at the University of Washington. The report, published in Population Health Metrics, breaks down life expectancy by U.S. counties. 


"The widening disparities between counties . . . should be viewed as a call for action," the paper's authors note. 


So where are the worst areas for life expectancy? The South, the Mississippi basin, West Virginia, Kentucky and some counties with large Native American populations, the study found. 


For men, the worst county to call home is McDowell, W. Va., where the average life expectancy is just 63.9 years, well below the U.S. average of 76.3. About one-third of the county's 21,000 residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. The area has been hit hard by the loss of coal mining jobs, and most of its citizens receive some type of government support. 


For women, the county with the lowest life expectancy is Perry, Ky., which has a lifespan of 72.7 years, compared with the U.S. average of 80.9. About one-quarter of Perry's 28,000 residents live in poverty. McDowell, W. Va., was the runner-up for worst life span for women, at 72.9 years.


The results "will not come as welcome news to many in Perry County, which earlier this year was ranked second to last in the state in terms of health," the county's Hazard Herald noted.


And where are the counties with the longest life spans? For women, it's tony Marin County, Calif., where the median household income is almost $90,000 and where women can expect to live to 85. 


For men, the best location is Fairfax County, Va., where the median household income is $108,000. Men can expect to reach the ripe old age of 81.7. Top employers in Fairfax include Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) and Capital One (COF).


Here are the five worst counties for life expectancy for women and men:


Women                         Life expectancy

1. Perry, Ky.                     72.65

2. McDowell, W. Va.         72.9

3. Tunica, Miss.                73.36

4. Quitman, Miss.             73.36

5. Petersburg, Va.            73.69


Men

1. McDowell, W. Va.          63.9

2. Bolivar, Miss.                65.03

3. Perry, Ky.                      66.52

4. Floyd, Ky.                      66.59

5. Tunica, Miss.                 66.7


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.


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58Comments
Jul 12, 2013 3:05PM
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Of course the fact that for men in McDowell, West Virginia, the main industry was COAL MINING, has nothing to do with the fact that their men are dying younger, does it? It's ALL the fault of people living in poverty, isn't it??

 

Aimee, you COULD put in ALL the facts, or at least more of them, than the one that just fit into your world-view that POVERTY causes ALL the problems of life expectancy.  That what you've written is bull crap in a lot of respects is proven by the fact that in Russia, the average man doesn't even reach the age of 60!!!!  The BIGGEST FACTOR is because they're DRINKING THEMSELVES TO DEATH.

Jul 12, 2013 3:25PM
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Healthy food is not expensive, poor people have poor ways.  My grandparents were broke for much of their lives but they weren't poor. Six years of schooling between them and smart  enough to eat right .  And lived well into their 90's and were healthy and died of old age.
Jul 13, 2013 9:07AM
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Resist the temptation to tell others how to live their lives, look how well native Americans do with over 120 years of federal assistance.   Freedom is more important than any of the things discussed here.  Living free for fewer years is better than being a ward of the state.  In the grand scheme of things, the garbage collectors are more important than all of the bureaucrats in Washington.  By the way health care does not have near as much to do with health, as lifestyle.   
Jul 14, 2013 2:03PM
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Yeah, I think it's strange, because years ago (and still some today)..

Many Seniors used to tend small Gardens and raise, a V-good array of veggies, sometimes fruits and berries also.....The poorer classes included.

Maybe it was a Depression or Post-Depression mindset ?

 

Mostly only seen frequently in outer urban or rural areas now..

Doesn't really take much room, and is quite in-expensive or can be..

A 10x20 plot can grow a lot...And some people raise plenty in Patio or Deck pots.

It's rewarding in many ways and much better food...

Maybe people have just gotten lazier or we give them too much..

Maybe giving out seed and small plants would help...With easy to read instructions.

We have been doing it for decades, excellent eating. 

Jul 12, 2013 5:25PM
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"The gap is striking, given that the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than all other countries,"

 

Beg pardon. ALL other countries? I do hope you mean ANY other country.

 

Jul 12, 2013 3:30PM
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Yes.....The coal mine.....any mine for that mater.....is not a good place to work if you wish for a long life....jejejejeje
Jul 16, 2013 9:37AM
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What's so great about living till your ninety if your put out to pasture at 67? Don't listen to you unless your wealthy or politically involved or on You tube? Once upon a time the "old" were considered wise because of there life experience.

Now I kind of agree with John Mellencamp- Oh yeah life goes on long after the thrill of livin is gone.

Jul 16, 2013 1:56PM
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How moronic to blame poverty. How about blaming the fact that mining and lung disease go hand in hand. Idiots.
Jul 13, 2013 5:57PM
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"Any man who thinks he can behappy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of them;

Had better take a closer look at the American Indian".

Henry Ford

 

BTW....Although healthy lifesyles, may lead to better health..

It is an ABSOLUTE fact that better HEALTHCARE extends life and comfort..Worldwide.

Many of the problems we face when getting older are all about Family Trees, not what we ate.

Jul 16, 2013 12:24PM
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Wealthy people get better healthcare than poor people, next........
Jul 16, 2013 12:05PM
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HEALTHCARE IS 18% OR MORE OF THE GDP, YET PEOPLE DON'T HAVE GOOD HEALTHCARE, BUT THIS IS BECAUSE HEALTHCARE IS BASED ON MONEY, FOR THE VERY FEW OF COURSE.  THERE ARE OVER 1 MILLION DOCTORS PRACTICING IN AMERICA, WE HAVE THE BIGGEST DOCTOR-PATIENT RATIO IN THE CIVILIZED WORLD. SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE.  AND WHAT'S THE BRILLIANT ANSWER FROM MOST PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND HOSPITALS? MORE DOCTORS????ARE WE COMPLETELY RETARDED? IF YOU PUMP MORE DOCTORS INTO THE SYSTEM, THOSE DOCTORS ARE GOING TO CONTINUE ORDERING INAPPROPRIATE MILLION-DOLLAR WORK UPS AND TREATMENTS THAT WILL DRAIN THE ECONOMY EVEN MORE.  OBVIOUSLY PHYSICIAN ACADEMIES AND BIG HOSPITALS DON'T ARGUE AGAINST PUMPING MORE USELESS PHYSICIANS TO THE COMMUNITIES, SINCE THEY MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FOR THOSE CORPORATE MONSTERS
Jul 16, 2013 5:25PM
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what is the deal with Miss.?  And being poor? My grandparents were very poor. They lived on their small farm. Grew their own food. If you wanted milk you had to go out to the pasture, catch the cow, wash her teets, milk her, boil the milk, cool it off, then drink it. They butchered a calf once a year, maybe twice depending on the herd and the numbers. They lived to almost 90. My great aunt is still around, she is poor, she just turned 90. I have a great uncle. He lived to 95. My fathers friend owned 17 news papers in the late 80's early 90's. He was wealthy. He died at 52. Its what you put in your body and how active you are that makes you live longer. Also happiness. My grand parents were happy and content with their lives.
Jul 12, 2013 2:26PM
Jul 12, 2013 3:34PM
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Fairfax County, VA- best place for men to live.  Booz Allen Hamilton and Capital One top employers.  WRONG - it is our BLOATED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT- These people are over paid, under worked  and have fat Federal Pensions.  They can't be fired or made to be accountable for their work.

 

A lot of these people living in the areas described can't afford to eat healthy vegetables and fruits and are not educated.  The Department of Education "IE: "BRAINWASHING" was formed in 1970 to take care of the education deficiencies of our country.  When formed the high school graduation rate was about 69%.  Forty-three years latter it is about 75%.  The real reason for the takeover was to make sure the liberal agenda brainwashes our school kids that the GOVERNMENT IS THE MEANS TO ALL THINGS.  Look at all of the poverty - food stamps, subsidized housing etc.

 

WAKE UP AMERICA 

Jul 13, 2013 1:07AM
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Although "no laughing matter"...I think it's much more about Healthcare and the availability.?

Dietary may come in as second or further down the line..

If it's a distant or cloistered type area, not many people moving in or out..

It very well could be in the Genetics or DNA of the area...

 

There are specific areas around the World,(found in studies) where people live fairly long and healthy lives no matter what they eat or drink...And it appears it may be about Genetics or "long lifers" by most standards....Even if a resident moves away, they seem to carry the genes with them,same results...

Studys have found and tracked.

So, I'm sure the reverse can be true also.

 

I'm a little miffed by Tunica, Miss. being Casinos and Tourism in the area, they could build some Heath Centers in the area, but their Governor probably squanders the tax monies elsewhere..

Seems years ago Tunica area was riverbottoms, cotton fields and other crops.

That has somewhat changed for the better, I thought.

Jul 16, 2013 6:24PM
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Notice how the same States with low life expectancy are also the states that are refusing to join the Medicare expansion??

Jul 16, 2013 4:03PM
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How long does everyone actually want to live??????

 

Jul 16, 2013 4:30PM
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My thought would be that if you check the poverty level in these areas, they will also reflect miserable statistics. I however was not surprised by the STATES involved. These states reflect some of the most miserable conditions in the US in which to live. Yes, Yes , Yes, there are "shining" stars in each of the states. You choose an apple in its entirety, you don't pick one with a big rotten spot on it!

 

Now that we all know about these areas, so what. What are we to do? We could get Sally Struthers to divert African children's money to the US, maybe take a few million from Bangladesh. More clearly, we could and should allow charity and opportunity to begin at HOME (USA)  Then all we have to do is teach the horse to drink the water rather than just stare at it! Look at this way, at least with a shorter life span their particular hell is over sooner.....................just saying.

Jul 12, 2013 2:35PM
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All the problems we are having paying for health care would go away if Americans just ate healthier food.
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