Feb 17, 2022 - News

Ohio's life expectancy among the worst in U.S.

Estimated life expectancy at birth, 2019
Data: CDC National Center for Health Statistics; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The average life expectancy at birth in Ohio is 76.9, according to 2019 state-by-state data released by the CDC last week.

  • That puts the Buckeye State at No. 42 nationally and makes us the worst-ranked of the top 10 most populated U.S. states.

Why it matters: Decreasing longevity points to underlying issues impacting Ohioans' overall health and quality of life.

The big picture: Ohio joins neighbors Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia in the low CDC rankings, along with most southeastern states.

  • Our expectancy has declined by about a full year since 2010.

Zoom in: The Health Policy Institute of Ohio sounded the alarm last year with a report that ranked Ohio 47th on health value, a composite measure of population health and health care spending as of 2018.

  • Three key negative factors included childhood adversity and trauma, systemic inequities, and sparse spending on public health and prevention efforts.

Threat level: Ohio also ranks high among risk factors tracked by the CDC, including obesity and cigarette usage.

Yes, but: Wide discrepancies in life expectancy exist among communities, with issues like poverty and racism playing a role.

  • The institute noted a massive gap between residents of Franklinton, the census tract with the lowest life expectancy in Ohio (60), and Stow, a northeast Ohio suburb with the highest (89.2).
  • And an Ohio woman's life expectancy was 5.2 years higher than a man's in 2019, mirroring the national trend.

What's next: Unfortunately, the situation is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

  • While the CDC report lists the most recent state-by-state data available, it's from before the pandemic began.

Using national data that takes into account COVID-19, the CDC recently reported that the overall U.S. life expectancy fell to 77 years in 2020 from 78.8 years in 2019 —the largest one-year decline since World War II.

  • COVID-19 emerged as the third-leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
  • People of color were disproportionately impacted.

Check out the full interactive map.


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