Report finds Grand County residents live longer |

Report finds Grand County residents live longer

Residents can now count high life expectancy among the factors making Grand County an exceptional locale.

Grand County is currently ranked 30th in the nation, out of 3,142 county or county-equivalents, in terms of average life expectancy. Citizens have an average life expectancy of 82.73 years; nearly 16 years more than citizens in the lowest life expectancy counties in the nation.

The data is derived from a research analysis conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The findings were published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The analysis revealed startling realities in the life expectancy gap that has developed in the nation over the past 35 years. In the early 1980s, the variations in life expectancy were not so acute with only modest deviations across the nation. As of 2014, however, the most recent year the analysis looked at, the disparity was glaring.

The county with the highest life expectancy in the nation is Summit County at 86.83 years, which is over 20 years above the average life expectancy in the country, while the lowest expectancy was found in Oglala Lakota County, S.D., at 66.81 years. The high country counties of Colorado dominate the high life expectancy category with Summit, Pitkin and Eagle counties holding the top three spots. There are nine Colorado counties in the top 30 in the nation for life expectancy.

Grand County has seen steadily increasing average life expectancy for at least the last 35 years. In 1980, the average life expectancy in Grand County was 75.61 years. By 1985 that figure had grown only slightly to 76.93 years. From 1985 to 2005, life expectancy in Grand County climbed to 81 years and in 2015 it reached its current level. The change over the past 30 years represents a 9.41 percent increase in an individual’s anticipated time on Earth.

While life expectancy was increasing, Grand County’s mortality rate was falling.

The mortality rate for the county’s youngest residents, ages zero to five, fell by nearly 70 percent over the past 35 years. Over that same period, mortality for our older citizens fell by roughly 37 percent.

Overall the data paints a startling picture of the changing landscape of American health. Counties with higher life expectancy figures are mostly found in the western and northern United States and are densely clustered in the high Rockies counties of Colorado, the mountainous counties of Idaho and Wyoming, coastal California, southern Minnesota and southern New England.

Notably counties with lower life expectancy rates are the standard throughout the south, tightly grouped along the Mississippi River corridor from Missouri to Louisiana and in far eastern Kentucky near the Appalachian Mountains. The counties with the lowest life expectancy, however, are largely within the Dakotas, with three out of the five lowest life expectancies.

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