America’s surprising partisan divide on life expectancy

By | September 4, 2023

Colin Woodard writes:

Where you live in America can have a major effect on how young you die.

On paper, Lexington County, S.C., and Placer County, Calif., have a lot in common. They’re both big, wealthy, suburban counties with white supermajorities that border on their respective state’s capital cities. They both were at the vanguard of their states’ 20th century Republican advances — Lexington in the 1960s when it pivoted from the racist Dixiecrats; Placer with the Reagan Revolution in 1980 — and twice voted for Donald Trump by wide margins. But when it comes to how long their residents can count on living, the parallels fall apart. Placer has a Scandinavia-like life expectancy of 82.3 years. In Lexington, the figure is 77.7, a little worse than China’s.

Or take Maine’s far-flung Washington County, the poorest in New England where the per capita income is $27,437. The county is a hardscrabble swath of blueberry fields, forestland and fishing ports that was ravaged by the opioid epidemic and is almost completely white. It has one of the worst life expectancies in the entire Northeast: 75.5 years. But that’s more than six years better than the equally remote, forested, impoverished, white and drug-battered Perry County of eastern Kentucky.

The truth of life expectancy in America is that places with comparable profiles — similar advantages and similar problems — have widely different average life outcomes depending on what part of the country they belong to. [Continue reading…]

Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me