Q&A – Florida’s Life Expectancy Compared To The Rest Of The Country

Stressed female wearing protective face mask.

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: The national media loves to malign DeSantis’ pandemic response. I’d think the truth would show up in life expectancy. I remember hearing the average life expectancy fell in the country because of the pandemic last year. How does Florida’s life expectancy compare to the country overall? 

Bottom Line: You’re right, this is something I’ve not tackled before but is instructive within the context with which you’ve asked your question. In July, the CDC announced the pandemic took a heavy toll on overall life expectancy in the United States. The one-year drop in life expectancy was the highest since World War II when we lost so many of the Greatest Generation on the battlefield. According to the CDC, the average life expectancy in 2021 is now 78.6 years. So that becomes your baseline for the sake of comparison. 

Florida’s current life expectancy is 79.2. Florida currently has the 16th highest life expectancy in the country which is especially notable in the context of the pandemic. As is well known those who are oldest have been most vulnerable to the worst effects, including death, due to COVID-19. Florida has the country’s largest retiree population, making Florida’s above-average life expectancy somewhat remarkable in the middle of a pandemic. As a result of Florida’s high retiree population, the average Floridian is 42.4 years old making Florida the fifth oldest state in the country. That’s nearly four years older than the national average of 38.5. 

Now, putting all of this information together tells a highly compelling story that flies in the face of the national narratives about Florida’s pandemic response. The biggest risk factor for death due to COVID-19 is age, Florida is 10.1% older than the country as a whole and the average life expectancy is 1% higher in Florida than the national average. This is with Florida being as free and open as any state in the country during the pandemic. Something worthy of consideration that’s hard to quantify but likely is part of Florida’s story is the mental health component.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. But how brutal were the lockdowns? And we were only in them for a few weeks. Imagine living in that environment for around a year. The ability for people to be able to continue to live their lives, despite challenging circumstances at times, has likely contributed to significantly better mental health outcomes in our state as opposed to others and likely supports longevity that would play into Florida’s life expectancy than otherwise defies the odds of the pandemic. 

According to the World Health Organization, those with depression are 1.8 times more likely to experience premature death. Imagine how hard it would be to battle depression in the middle of a lockdown that’s seemingly never-ending. Think Governor DeSantis will ever be credited by the news media, CDC, or World Health Organization for his policies contributing to better outcomes for those battling mental health issues? But empirically it can be proven that his policies would have supported the best possible outcomes generally for those suffering from those conditions. There are may be other related factors that play a role, including perhaps retirees in Florida seemingly having more to live for than those in other states. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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