Study: Pennsylvania in lower half of states for life expectancy |

Study: Pennsylvania in lower half of states for life expectancy

Jeff Himler

Pennsylvania ranks in the lower half of states in life expectancy, and is in third place when measuring the rate of drug overdose deaths, according to a new study.

“Life Expectancy In Every U.S. State,” released this week by, is based on reports issued last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study found that average life expectancy overall in the nation saw a modest but steady decrease over the past three years — from 78.8 years to 78.6 years — after decades of improvement. Deaths resulting from drug abuse, suicide and alcohol-related liver disease have shown dramatic increases behind the leading causes of mortality — heart disease and cancer, which combined claim about 1.2 million U.S. lives each year.

But, according to figures from Overdose Free PA and officials in area counties, the Southwestern Pennsylvania region saw drug overdose deaths decline by more than 40 percent last year, after spiking in 2016 and 2017.

According to the study by, Pennsylvanians have an average life expectancy of 78.5 years, in 29th place among the states.

Among neighboring states, New York, in fifth place, and New Jersey, in seventh, ranked the highest; residents there can expect to live an average of 80.5 years and 80.2 years, respectively. Maryland placed at No. 20, with a life expectancy of 79.2 years.

At No. 38, Ohio has a life expectancy of 77.5 years. Mississippi is in last place, with a life expectancy of 74.7 years; West Virginia ranked just above it , at 75.3 years. Hawaii is at the top, with a life expectancy of 81.3 years.

Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the country — 44.3 per 100,000 people, according to the data studied by The two states with worse rates are West Virginia, with 57.8 overdose deaths per 100,000 people and Ohio, with 46.3 deaths.

All 50 states saw at least double-digit increases in the rate of drug overdose deaths between 2005 and 2017, and more than half the states recorded increases in triple digits. Pennsylvania experienced an increase of 235.6%; West Virginia saw the most serious climb, a 450.5% increase.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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