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. 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.
Data Visualization of Structural Racism and Place
Funding will support the creation of data visualizations as tools to provide an understanding of structural racism’s impact on place, health, and wellbeing.
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?
We all want to live in a United States where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to reach their best health and wellbeing, no matter their race, ethnicity, or class. That can happen by making sure everyone gets quality healthcare from doctors who respect them. It can happen when families live in communities with well-funded schools and parks, and in neighborhoods with access to safe and affordable homes. But this is not everyone’s reality today. There are barriers built in front of some of us that create unequal opportunity and threaten freedom and prosperity.
The U.S. has witnessed the steepest plunge in life expectancy since World War II, largely fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which underscored that wealth, racism, and privilege continue to play an outsized role in how long and how well people live.
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.
Our ZIP code shouldn’t dictate our health. Everyone should have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible in the place they call home. By joining together, we can unite to create a better future for everyone’s children and grandchildren.
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
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.
Current Funding Opportunities
Our grantmaking aims to advance health equity by identifying, illuminating, and addressing structural and systemic barriers.