To see life expectancy data for women for 2009, click on a county on the map. Rates for men are mapped.
Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Statistically, it’s long been true that women live longer than men, but in New Jersey, women in Bergen County live even longer than most other women.
Data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington shows that the average Bergen County woman lived to 84.1 in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That’s 5.5 years longer than a woman in Cumberland County.
And even at just 78.7 years, Cumberland women outlive men in all but four counties -- Bergen, Morris, Somerset, and Hunterdon. The shortest male lifespan was 73.3 years in Salem County.
On the other hand, men may slowly be catching up to women. Between 1989 and 2009, the average male’s lifespan increased by 5.3 years in New Jersey, while the average female’s rose just 3.3 years.
The institute’s researchers found that trend to be true nationwide, although New Jerseyans added more years to their lives on average than those elsewhere in the country: The typical lifespan increased by 4.6 years for men and 2.7 years for women.
In 661 U.S. counties, though, women in 2009 actually lived shorter lives than they had a decade earlier, while the same trend was true for men in 166 counties. That was not the case in New Jersey, where life expectancy rose for both sexes.
The study found the life expectancy gap between blacks and whites closing nationally, and that was true in New Jersey, as well, although white men in 2009 still lived 4.6 years longer than blacks, and white women lived 3.5 years longer than black women.
Mary E. O’Dowd, the state’s commissioner of health and senior services, welcomed those findings, but said the fact that a racial gap exists remains troubling.
“The good news is that life expectancy is increasing in all 21 counties in New Jersey,” she said. “However, while the life expectancy for African Americans has improved at a rate greater than that for whites, disparities continue to be a challenge. The department’s goal is to improve the health of all of our communities. We are committed to leading the effort to reduce -- and eventually eliminate -- health disparities in New Jersey.”
Life expectancy has been closely tied to socioeconomic status with numerous reasons cited: from wealthier and better educated people seeking out and having access to better healthcare to their ability to get healthier food at supermarkets to the stress and violence poorer people living in urban areas face. The data for the state and the nation tended to follow that pattern.
For instance, men lived longest – 81.6 years -- in Marin County in Northern California, where the median household income is close to $90,000 and more than half of adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree. By contrast, Quitman, Mississippi, where only one in 10 adults has a bachelor’s degree and household income was less than $25,000, had the shortest life expectancy for males – 66.1 years.
Bergen County, which had the longest life expectancy for women and the second-longest for men, has a 5.8 percent poverty rate, compared with 15.5 percent in Cumberland, which had the lowest female rate and second-lowest male rate.
Nationally, the longest life expectancy was 85.8 years for women in Collier, Florida, a retirement haven that includes Naples.