© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why blue state residents live longer and healthier

Ways To Subscribe

Life expectancy in the United States continues to fall. It’s the shortest it’s been in nearly two decades, according to the CDC.

The United States ranks 36th in the world for life expectancy at birth, with an average life expectancy of 79.74 years as of 2023. This is lower than the average life expectancy for high-income countries, which is 82.7 years.

But which U.S. state one lives in is also a predictor of life expectancy.

Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the US, at 80.7 years. And Mississippi has the lowest life expectancy in the US, at 71.9 years.

The average life expectancy in Texas is 78.5 years.

However, there is a significant difference in life expectancy between different groups of people in Texas.

For example, women in Texas have a life expectancy of 81.2 years, while men have a life expectancy of 75.8 years.

Hispanics in Texas have a life expectancy of 81.2 years, while whites have a life expectancy of 78.1 years, and people who are Black have a life expectancy of 75.3 years.

Generally speaking, life expectancy is longer in states that have consistently been run by Democrats who enact liberal policies like health care, mental health services and anti-poverty programs. In states where Republicans are consistently voted into office the life expectancy is the shortest in the nation. These “red” states have higher COVID rates, more drug abuse deaths, lack of access to health case, higher gun violence and more complications from treatable diseases like diabetes.

Experts says the United States can improve its life expectancy by addressing social and economic issues with multifaceted approaches that include investments in public health, education, and social programs.

However, conservatives traditionally say this is too much government involvement in the daily lives of Americans. Thus it could be argued that there isn’t enough political will to address the problem of shortened life expectancy despite the fact that it’s a predicament that impacts every American on an issue they ought to be most concerned about.


Steven Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., is a senior fellow at American Progress and professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, where he was the founding director of the Center on Society and Health and now holds the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chair in Population Health and Health Equity. Dr. Woolf has edited three books and published more than 200 articles in a career that has focused on raising public awareness about the social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health and produce inequities. He works to address these issues through outreach to policymakers and the public, including offering testimony before Congress, consulting, media outreach, and speaking engagements.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255 or email thesource@tpr.org.

This interview will be recorded Tuesday, November 28, 2023.

Stay Connected
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi