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Allegheny County Life Expectancy Up 6 Years Since 1985

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA
Senior citizens participate in yoga at the University of Pittsburgh's BRiTE program on Friday, February 17, 2017.

Life expectancies in southwestern Pennsylvania are on par with the national average, according to a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Life expectancies in the region ranged from 77 years in Fayette County to 79 years in Butler County.

Both the state and national averages are close to 79 years.

The study, authored by researchers at the University of Washington, also looked at historical data.

Since 1985, people in Allegheny County have gained about eight years, while people in Greene County only gained about five.

NPR reports that nationwide, the gap between the longest and shortest life expectancies was about 20 years, from 87 to 67 years.

The U.S. counties with the longest life expectancy are places like Marin County, Calif., and Summit County, Colo. — communities that are well-off and more highly educated. Counties with the shortest life expectancy tend to have communities that are poorer and less educated. The lowest is in Oglala Lakota County, S.D., which includes the Pine Ridge Native American reservation. Many of the other counties with the lowest life expectancy are clustered along the lower Mississippi River Valley as well as in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, according to the analysis.

People in Philadelphia County have a life expectancy of 75-and-a-half years, the lowest in the state. According to the U.S. Census, the average annual income there is $38,253.

The county that fares the best is Centre County, at 82 years, with an average income of $52,186.

Allegheny County has a higher average income but a lower lifespan: $53,040 per year and 78-and-a-half years, respectively.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.