I Wanna Live Forever…


…so I'd better move to Bergen County, NJ, and become Asian-American. Failing racial transformation, my best bet is to become a low-income resident of rural South Dakota.

A new study out from the online journal of the Public Library of Science has some unexpected findings on longevity. Race remains relevant (blacks and Indians are the shortest-lived), but income is less important than conventional wisdom holds. And three biggest predictors of longevity?: Location, location, location.

Here's the lineup:
1) Asian Americans, average per capita income of $21,566, have a life expectancy of 84.9 years.
2) Northland low-income rural white people, $17,758, 79 years.
3) Middle America (mostly white), $24,640, 77.9 years.
4) Low-income white people in Appalachia, Mississippi Valley, $16,390, 75 years.
5) Black Middle America, $15,412, 72.9 years.
6) Western American Indians, $10,029, 72.7 years.
7) Southern low-income rural black people, $10,463, 71.2 years.
8) High-risk urban black people, $14,800, 71.1 years.

Other interesting tidbits:

* American Indians who don't live on or near reservations in the West have life expectancies similar to that of white people.

* Lack of health insurance wasn't a powerful factor, it explained only a small portion of differences observed

* Longevity gaps have been about the same for the last 20 years, despite increased focus on race-related health problems and numerous government programs designed to better insure minorities.

Check out Ron Bailey on other options for gaining eternal life here, here, and here.

NEXT: Hastert Delenda Est

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  1. Color me skeptical. I’ve encountered the correlation between wealth and health (and longevity) from many sources over many years.

  2. What’s the longevity value of living in SD compared to just having Scandahoovian genes?


  3. Unweighted average gap between men and women in the same county: 6 years.

    Why isn’t there any press about how men live shorter lives?

  4. If you’re going to live in rural South Dakota, make sure it’s a convenient distance from Sioux Falls, which has three (extremely good) hospitals; not to mention decent shopping, halfway-decent entertainment, and decent employment (if you work in medicine or computers).

    The rest of the state (outside of the Black Hills) is both a) boring as fuck, and b) poor as fuck.

  5. Color me skeptical. I’ve encountered the correlation between wealth and health (and longevity) from many sources over many years.
    Indeed, although see below.
    The “8 Americas” seemed rather arbitrary and capricious; they were mostly “the entire country” plus some statistical outliers, and didn’t necessarily define any meaningful geographic area.

    What’s the longevity value of living in SD compared to just having Scandahoovian genes?
    About 30% of lifespan difference relative to others is predicted by genetics. Location is mostly irrelevant.

    Although health disparities within nations are still routinely attributed to differences in wealth and social status, health scientists have noted for decades that differences in material resources and access to health care cannot explain three remarkable facts about group disparities in health: (a) disparities are ubiquitous, regardless of country, health system, decade, disease, organ system involved, and treatability of disease, (b) health is better at successively higher levels of socioeconomic status, even beyond the level of resources required for good health and health care, and (c) health disparities increase when health information and medical care become more widely available (as happened, for instance, when the media alerted the public to the dangers of smoking and when Great Britain instituted free national health care in the 1950s).1

    Investment in better health care matters, of course, and it raises average levels of health in all groups. But it simultaneously creates greater variation (disparities) in health, because some individuals are better able to capitalize on the new resources. Health literacy research and related studies have shown that an individual?s mental resources are critical for effectively exploiting available care. Persons who learn and reason poorly practice healthy behaviors less often, seek less preventive care (even
    when free), know fewer signs and symptoms of disease, and adhere less effectively to treatment regimens.

    (Stats from various places, and perhaps a bit dated – see URL).
    Nation Male Female Average
    Wealthy AsAm 89.5 95.0 92.0(s1)
    US Mormon 86.0
    Japan ’97 80.0 85.3 83.2
    US Asian 83.0
    CA Asian 79.2 85.8 82.5
    HI Chinese 78.4 81.7 80.2
    SF Latino 73.9 86.5 80.2
    SF Asian 76.5 83.5 80.0
    …chopped table because of formatting – see URL.
    US White 76.0
    Shanghai China 75.5
    United States 72 79 75.5

  6. “color me skeptical. I’ve encountered the correlation between wealth and health (and longevity) from many sources over many years.”

    Read the study; it’s interesting. They aren’t refuting the correlation, but rather saying it doesn’t explain the variation in the local and larger population. So, they *are* correlated, but lack of money isn’t the cause of poor health. The cause is unhealthy choices common among folks in a given group. Poor folks make unhealthy decisions regarding tobacco, food, and exercise.

  7. Hypothesis: If there is a strong genetic link to longevity and health, then long lived, healthy people will have had (on average) long lived, healthy parents and grandparents. LL,H parents and grandparents will have worked longer (and eventually at better jobs), and thus have more money to spend on grandkids education. Better education (on average) equals better jobs equals more money. . . Where was I?

  8. Wasn’t there some meme going around just last week declaring that a child’s height is strongly correlated to the parents but their lifespan is very weakly correlated?

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