Disparities in life expectancy in Massachusetts driven by societal factors

New life expectancy data show that there are massive variations across different areas of Massachusetts, likely driven by societal factors such as education, income, race, and access to health care.

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Massachusetts has the sixth-highest life expectancy in the country: 80.7 years, compared with the national average of 78.7. But there is wide variation throughout the state, ranging from an average of 68.1 in a poor area of New Bedford to 94.2 in a white, wealthy neighborhood in Newton.

In a December 17, 2018 MassLive.com article, experts said that the conditions in people’s lives—known as social determinants—play a key role in their life expectancy. Areas with lower life expectancy have greater numbers of people who don’t finish high school, don’t have health insurance, are unemployed, have low incomes, and are nonwhite.

“I think it’s generally understood that factors that we lump together under social determinants of health probably have the largest impact, and it relates to health behaviors and your living situation,” said John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Read the MassLive.com article: Why do the rich live longer in Massachusetts? Data on life expectancy show gaps along income, racial lines