Could where you live influence how long you live?
People living just a few blocks apart may have vastly different opportunities to live a long life. Unfortunately, significant gaps in life expectancy persist across many United States cities, towns, ZIP codes and neighborhoods. The latest estimates of life expectancy reveal differences down to the census tract level. Use the tool below, and interactive map, to explore how life expectancy in America compares with life expectancy in your area, and resources to help everyone have the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life.
The data for census tracts are for 2018. The data for counties and states are for 2020. The national life expectancy data are for 2021.
How does where we live affect our opportunity to be healthy?
For the first time in our history, the United States is raising a generation of children who may live sicker and shorter lives than their parents. In 2020 and again in 2021, we witnessed the steepest plunge in life expectancy since World War II, largely fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. Reversing this trend will of course depend on healthy choices by each of us. But not everyone in America has the same opportunities to be healthy. We know that the drivers of inequitable social, economic, built, and physical conditions within and across place and race can dramatically reduce opportunities for better health and well-being.
According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy at birth in the United States is 76.4 years—73.5 years for men (a decrease of 0.7 years from 74.2 in 2020) and 79.3 years for women (a decrease of 0.6 year from 79.9 in 2020). Heart disease was the leading cause of death, followed by cancer and COVID-19.
In 2018, the National Center for Health Statistics released first-of-its-kind neighborhood-level data on life expectancy through the U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP), in partnership with RWJF and the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS). The data revealed how life expectancy estimates vary greatly even at the census tract level, from block to block. At this time, this data will not be updated.
A Culture of Health is rooted in equity and provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. Browse the resources below to learn more about what shapes our health, and how to take action.
Arias E, Escobedo LA, Kennedy J, Fu C, Cisewski J. U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project: Methodology and Results Summary. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics 2 (181). 2018.
Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2021. NCHS Data Brief, no 456. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022.
Arias E, Xu JQ, Tejada-Vera B, Murphy SL, Bastian B. U.S. State Life Tables 2020. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 71 no 2. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022.
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps 2022. www.countyhealthrankings.org
Neighborhood Life Expectancy Project
By providing data on life expectancy at the census tract level, the U.S. Small Area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) is designed to help community leaders create more locally targeted strategies to improve health in cities and towns nationwide.
Health Equity: Why it Matters and How to Take Action
RWJF's health equity toolkit provides resources, data, and examples of communities working to achieve better health for all.
Mapping Life Expectancy
A series of life expectancy maps developed with Virginia Commonwealth University which show vast disparities in life expectancy across neighborhoods in many U.S. cities.