A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says that, despite 20 years of improvements in health care and rising life expectancy elsewhere, males born in La Paz County in 2009 have a shorter average life expectancy than those born in 1989.
In 1989, La Paz County had the best life expectancy in any surrounding county in the southwestern United States (see graphic above; click to enlarge). But, while lifespans have improved in every other Arizona county over the past two decades, La Paz has failed to show any improvement.
Males born in La Paz County in 2009 can expect to live 1.5 fewer years than those born in 1989. The lifespan for La Paz County women improved by nearly a year in that time (which compares to a 5-years improvement in Maricopa County and a massive 9.5 year improvement in Yuma County).
La Paz County males born in 2009 have a life expectancy of 74.5, compared to a state average of 77.6, while La Paz females born in 2009 have a life expectancy of 82.3, compared to a state average of 82.4.
Yuma County women can expect to live to 84, the highest life expectancy for either gender in Arizona. Apache County men had the lowest life expectancy in the state at 70.8 years.
Despite La Paz County’s failure to improve in the past 20 years, it could be worse: hundreds of counties – many of them in the South – showed serious declines in life expectancy in the same period. This trend is seen by some experts as a sign that diets in those places are getting worse, leading to obesity and other illnesses such as diabetes.
The question many in La Paz County will be asking is: what is Yuma County doing right that La Paz County is doing wrong?