ATLANTA – If you're 65 and living in Hawaii, here's some good news: Odds are you'll live another 21 years. And for all but five of those years, you'll likely be in pretty good health. Hawaii tops the charts in the government's first state-by-state look at how long Americans age 65 can expect to live, on average, and how many of the remaining years will be healthy ones.
Retirement-age Mississippians fared worst, with about 171/2 more years remaining and nearly seven of them in poorer health. U.S. life expectancy has been growing steadily for decades, and is now nearly 79 for newborns. The figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate life and health expectancy for 65-year-olds.
The World Health Organization keeps "healthy life expectancy" statistics on nearly 200 countries, and the numbers are used to determine the most sensible ages to set retirement and retirement benefits.
But the measure is still catching on in the United States; the CDC study is the first to make estimates for all 50 states. The Philadelphia region is about average: 65-year-olds in New Jersey can expect to live another 19.6 years, 14 of them in good health; Pennsylvanians, 18.9 more years, with 13.9 of them in good health. Overall, Americans who reach 65 have 19 years of life ahead, including nearly 14 in relatively good health, the CDC estimated. But the South and parts of the Midwest had lower numbers. That's not a surprise, experts said. Southern states tend to have higher rates of obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses.
States with the best numbers included Florida, Connecticut, and Minnesota. The estimates were made using 2007 through 2009 data from the census, death certificates, and telephone surveys that asked people to describe their health.