Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, writes today about life expectancy in the U.S. It has long trailed other advanced countries, but Krugman observes there’s been a sharp divergence in life expectancy in red and blue states.
A 2018 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at changes in health and life expectancy in U.S. states between 1990 and 2016. The divergence among states is striking. And as I said, it’s closely correlated with political orientation.
I looked at states that voted for Donald Trump versus states that voted for Clinton in 2016, and calculated average life expectancy weighted by their 2016 population. In 1990, today’s red and blue states had almost the same life expectancy. Since then, however, life expectancy in Clinton states has risen more or less in line with other advanced countries, compared with almost no gain in Trump country. At this point, blue-state residents can expect to live more than four years longer than their red-state counterparts.
Is this all about deaths of despair in the eastern heartland? No. Consider our four most populous states. In 1990, Texas and Florida had higher life expectancy than New York and almost matched California; today, they’re far behind.