Virginia's life expectancy has increased dramatically since the turn of the 20th century, and currently sits just above the national average.
Why is This Important?
Life expectancy is a measure of the overall health of the population. It represents the average number of years of life that could be expected if current death rates were to remain constant.
How is Virginia Doing?
From the turn of the 20th century through the most recent census in 2000, life expectancy in the United States increased from 48 to 74.3 years for men and from 51 to 79.7 years for women. In 2000, Virginia ranked 28th nationally for life span --76.8 years -- and first among its peers states. North Carolina's average was 75.8 years, Tennessee's was 75 years and Maryland's was 76.3 years.
More recent data reveals that life expectancy in Virginia is above the national average. In 2007 average life span for a male in Virginia was 76 years and 75.4 nationally. A woman's life span average was 80.8 years in Virginia and 80.4 nationally.
Life Expectancy, in Years
State Data: Virginia Center for Health Statistics
What Influences Life Expectancy?
Life expectancy at birth is influenced by infant and child mortality rates. Biologically, gender affects longevity, as females tend to live longer than males. Life expectancy later in life reflects death rates at or above a given age. Improvements in nutrition, housing, hygiene and medical care contribute to decreases in death rates throughout the lifespan. Access to health care, advances in medicine, healthier lifestyles and better health before age 65 have contributed to the decline in death rates among older Americans.
What is the State's Role?
There are a number of ways state government can help to improve the overall health of the population. For example, the state can provide education and information on healthy lifestyles, encourage medical research, and assist the poor in obtaining healthcare.
Data and Definitions
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division,
Interim State Population Projections, 2005
Regional Life Expectancy:
The Reversal of Fortunes: Trends in County Mortality and Cross-County Mortality Disparities in the United States, Ezzati M, Friedman AB, Kulkarni SC, Murray CJL, PLoS Medicine Vol. 5, 2008
See the Data Sources and Updates Calendar for a detailed list of the data resources used for indicator measures on Virginia Performs.