Life Expectancy: 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 in part because of their neighborhood. 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, counties, and states are for 2018; national-level life expectancy estimates are drawn from provisional data for 2020.


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, 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 77.3 years—74.5 years for men and 80.2 years for women. Between 2019 and 2020, life expectancy decreased by 3.0 years for the Hispanic population (81.8 to 78.8), by 2.9 years for the non-Hispanic black population (74.7 to 71.8) and by 1.2 years for the non-Hispanic White population (78.8 to 77.6).

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.

In a Culture of Health, we all have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, regardless of where we live. Browse the resources below to learn more about what shapes our health, and how to take action to help create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

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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.

Kochanek KD, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Arias E. Deaths: Final data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 68 no 9. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.

Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 355. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.

Arias E, Tejada-Vera B, Ahmad F. Provisional life expectancy estimates for January through June, 2020. Vital Statistics Rapid Release; no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. February 2021.


Related Resources

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.

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Mapping Life Expectancy: Short Distances to Large Gaps in Health

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