Above: I compare two versions of life expectancy at age 65, one that defines counties by people who reside there (as is standard) and one that defines counties instead by people who were born there (a novel measure).

Part of FSRDC Project UT-02603

Draft coming soon


Life expectancy in the United States varies widely by geography: The gap between the top and bottom-ranking counties is over twenty years (Dwyer-Lindgren et al., 2017). These disparities, however, are based on where people die. This paper provides the first sub-state estimates of life expectancy based on where the deceased were born. The results show that counties are much more similar when defined by who is born there rather than who dies there. This finding implies that a significant portion of the stark geographic differences in health status among Americans is driven by healthier people choosing to live in certain locations.

Disclaimer: Any views expressed are those of the authors and not those of the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau's Disclosure Review Board and Disclosure Avoidance Officers have reviewed this information product for unauthorized disclosure of confidential information and have approved the disclosure avoidance practices applied to this release. This research was performed at a Federal Statistical Research Data Center under FSRDC Project Number 2603. (CBDRB-FY21-P2603-R9186)