More than three-quarters of the counties with the worst declines in life expectancy are rural, a study shows.
Most of the U.S. counties with the worst declines in life expectancy in recent years are rural, according a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The table above shows the 10 best and 10 worst counties rated by change in life expectancy for males and females from 1985-2010. The counties in the left-hand column had the biggest gains in life expectancy. The counties in the right-hand column had the biggest declines in life expectancy.
The Daily Yonder added a yellow highlight to nonmetro counties.
Nonmetro counties account for nine of the 10 counties where female life expectancies declined by the greatest amount. And in male life expectancy, rural counties made up seven of the 10 worst counties.
Life expectancy in these counties is dropping at a faster rate than anywhere else in the United States.
Only three nonmetro counties are listed in the top counties for gains in life-expectancy. For male life expectancies, no rural counties made the top 10.
The Daily Yonder’s Bill Bishop and Roberto Gallardo have done a series of reports on rural life expectancies. (Males, females, and rural as a whole.) It’s not being rural per se that causes residents to live shorter lives. Life expectancies correlate closest with a related set of factors such as income level, access to healthcare and medical insurance and the incidence of obesity and diabetes.
The JAMA study also includes a list of counties with the highest and lowest life expectancies. (The tables below are from the National Journal. Again, we’ve highlighted the nonmetro counties in yellow).
Not surprisingly, rural counties (in yellow) tend to show up in the bottom 10 list. In fact, the 10 worst counties for male life expectancy are all nonmetro.