Life expectancy at birth in 9 Colorado counties among the highest in the country

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Published Thursday, November 25, 2021
by Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square

Life expectancy is one of the most important and commonly cited indicators of population health -- and in the United States, life expectancy is falling at a historic rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy at birth declined by 1.5 years in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II.

The CDC attributes the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic and 93,000 drug overdose deaths -- an all-time one-year high. Homicide, diabetes, and liver disease were also contributing factors. Here is a look at the states with the most drug overdose deaths in 2020

While the national trend is alarming, there are parts of the country where life expectancy is far higher than the national average. In Lake County, Colorado, for example, life expectancy at birth is an estimated 85.5 years -- about six years longer than the comparable national average of 79.2 years.

Variations in life expectancy across populations are closely linked to several factors -- and one of the strongest predictors of life expectancy is income level. Poverty presents challenges and stressors that can take a cumulative toll on both physical and mental health. Additionally, lower-income Americans are less able to afford adequate health care and healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that life expectancy among the wealthiest 1% of Americans exceeds that of the poorest 1% by well over a decade.

Lake County is a notable exception to the pattern, however, as 14.6% of the local population live on poverty-level income, compared to 13.4% of Americans nationwide.

All data on life expectancy came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program's 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. All life expectancy figures are averages for the years 2017 through 2019 -- the most recent period for which county-level data is available. Poverty rates are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey.

Counties were excluded if life expectancy data was unavailable, if the confidence interval for the estimate was deemed too large, or if the county's 2019 five-year population estimate from the Census Bureau was less than 1,000. 

Rank

County

Life expectancy at birth (yrs.)

Poverty rate (%)

Median household income ($)

1

Summit County, CO

98.9

8.0

79,277

2

Pitkin County, CO

94.4

6.7

78,935

3

Liberty County, MT

91.2

16.2

44,875

4

Golden Valley County, ND

90.6

7.5

58,690

5

Oliver County, ND

90.4

8.0

78,929

6

Eagle County, CO

89.4

8.0

84,790

7

Stanley County, SD

89.2

4.7

71,382

8

Presidio County, TX

88.8

39.0

25,098

9

Haines Borough, AK

87.5

11.3

58,059

10

Teton County, WY

87.5

6.1

84,678

11

Manassas Park city, VA

86.5

6.4

88,046

12

San Juan County, WA

86.2

10.2

63,622

13

Sweet Grass County, MT

86.2

5.7

49,886

14

Collier County, FL

86.1

11.2

69,653

15

Ouray County, CO

86.1

7.2

66,417

16

Aleutians West Census Area, AK

86.0

6.8

87,466

17

Arlington County, VA

85.9

6.8

120,071

18

Granite County, MT

85.6

7.9

49,881

19

Park County, CO

85.6

7.3

73,622

20

Fairfax County, VA

85.6

6.1

124,831

21

Steele County, ND

85.6

5.8

70,724

22

Lake County, CO

85.5

14.6

50,565

23

Frontier County, NE

85.5

9.0

54,659

24

Marin County, CA

85.5

7.2

115,246

25

New York County, NY

85.3

15.8

86,553

26

Blaine County, ID

85.3

12.5

56,694

27

Valley County, ID

85.3

7.2

64,475

28

Summit County, UT

85.1

5.6

102,958

29

San Mateo County, CA

85.0

6.7

122,641

30

Grand County, CO

84.9

9.5

71,198

31

Santa Clara County, CA

84.9

7.5

124,055

32

Kidder County, ND

84.8

10.8

54,643

33

Marshall County, SD

84.8

8.5

63,723

34

Loudoun County, VA

84.7

3.4

142,299

35

Gilliam County, OR

84.6

10.4

47,500

36

Montgomery County, MD

84.6

6.8

108,820

37

Hudspeth County, TX

84.5

24.4

31,677

38

Potter County, SD

84.5

7.5

54,583

39

Wayne County, NE

84.3

12.2

56,456

40

Lincoln County, SD

84.3

4.1

82,473

41

Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, AK

84.2

10.3

59,803

42

Jeff Davis County, TX

84.2

3.9

53,088

43

Glades County, FL

84.1

17.4

40,977

44

Queens County, NY

84.1

12.2

68,666

45

Routt County, CO

84.1

10.9

77,443

46

Alexandria city, VA

84.1

10.3

100,939

47

Judith Basin County, MT

84.0

12.7

43,661

48

San Francisco County, CA

84.0

10.3

112,449

49

Burke County, ND

84.0

5.9

77,232

50

Douglas County, CO

84.0

3.1

119,730

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