A new University of Washington study has some interesting insight on how where you live influences how long you can expect to live.
News Hour economics reporter Paul Salmon did a story on the report the other day.
The study finds a swing of as much as twenty years from one US county to another.
Curious, I moused over the fifteen counties in five states I've lived in, in order. The results were illuminating.
First, a little background. The US life expectancy is 79.08 years.
For the five states I've lived in, the results are 77.86 in North Carolina, 76.89 in South Carolina, 79.18 in Virginia, 79.44 in Oregon, and 79.9 in Washington.
I was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina, in 1955. LE there is 76.26.
In 1957 we moved to Gaston County (75.39). In 1959 we spent a year in Charlotte County, Virginia (76.26).
We returned to NC- this time, Hoke County- in 1960. I lost 72 days, falling to 76.02. In 1965 we moved again, to Shelby, in Cleveland County.
That was the nadir of my life in many respects, and the penultimate nadir for life expectancy, at 74.81 years. The Speaker of the North Carolina House, Tim Moore, considers our home county to be a paragon of his party's economic and social policies. And so do residents: they gave Governor Pat McCrory more votes in his HB2-based 2016 re-election bid than they did in his runs in 2012 and 2008. And McCrory returned the favor, citing Shelby as an example of the real North Carolina when it came to discrimination in the face of nonexistent public safety threats.
Though I retained Shelby No. 2 precinct as my legal residence, out of family ties and an insane notion that my congressman was telling the truth when he told me to knock out grad school and law school and come home to work for him, into the 1980s, I left in 1974 and only returned for visits until 1992.
My first port of call, post-Shelby, was Scotland County, NC, back down in the Sandhills, for college. You lose four months living there: the life expectancy is 74.55, three and a half years less than the state as a whole. I enjoyed rude good health there, however, as a student from 1974 to 1978.
I veered to the other extreme next: Oxford, England from 1978 to 1980. The UK life expectancy- in that land of socialist medicine- is the highest ever at 81.6 years: a seven-year swing.
Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, adjoined in Oregon, came next: 1980-1986. Not bad choices: 78.86 in the former; 80.49 in the latter.
Then I moved across the Columbia River to Clark County, Washington: 79.72, in 1986. Next county up, Cowlitz (1991-93), a declining logging area, was a two-year setback, to 77.51.
I made all that back up relocating to Seattle in 1993. In one of America's socialist paradises, the life expectancy is 81.37.
I lopped off two years to start my midlife crisis in 2006: in Clallam County, Washington, on the US-Canadian border, you shouldn't plan past 79.45, it's so far from everywhere else.
2008-13 I spent straddling the border of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties in South Carolina, with a two-year swing each time I crossed (78.01 in Greenville; 75.68 in Spartanburg).
Then, in 2013, I snuck across the unwalled border into North Carolina, washing up in Charlotte.
The life expectancy here is 79.57 years. I have eighteen years left, though Washington and Raleigh both seem to be putting their shoulders to the wheel in order to offer me the life envisioned by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan:
"To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.
"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."