Showing posts with label what shortens Republican lifespans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label what shortens Republican lifespans. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Life Expectancy Differences Between Democrats and Republicans

Readers of Baby-Boomer-Retirement have repeatedly shown interest in understanding what they can do in order to live a longer, healthier and less stressful life.  Since most Baby Boomers are now in their 60s and 70s, this interest is quite understandable.  No one wants to see their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, cut shorter than necessary.

As a result, it was with great interest that I learned that among the causes of a shorter lifespan, one factor which is often overlooked is your political party, as well as the prevailing political leanings in the state and community where you live.  In fact, as you can see in the map shown in the healthcare section of this post, there is an almost 20 year difference in average lifespan between people living in heavily Republican areas and heavily Democratic leaning areas.  

Of course, all of us know a favorite Republican aunt who lived to the ripe old age of 102, or that Democratic cousin who died at 45. However, despite these outliers, on average a Democrat living in a Democratic county in a Democratic state is likely to live to be significantly older and healthier than a Republican living in a Republican county in a Republican state.

On Average, Republicans Have Shorter Lifespans Than Democrats

The United States has been divided into two major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, for decades. These parties often have contrasting views on various political issues including gun violence, healthcare, environmental factors, education, and more, and it may surprise you to know that those issues can contribute to the differences in longevity. Below are some of the reasons why this may be true.

Gun Violence

Gun violence is a significant problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that firearms are the second leading cause of injury-related deaths in the country, with an average of 40,000 deaths annually. It is the leading cause of death for children and teens. 

Republicans generally have a more lenient attitude towards gun control than Democrats, which plays a part in the shorter lifespans in areas where they are in control. Studies have shown that states with more permissive gun laws have higher rates of firearm-related deaths, including a study by the American Public Health Association which found that states with more permissive gun laws had a higher rate of firearm homicide than states with stricter gun laws.

Data compiled by:


Access to healthcare is a fundamental factor in determining an individual's health outcomes. Republicans generally oppose policies which would increase access to healthcare, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In contrast, Democrats support policies which aim to improve healthcare access. 

Research has shown that lack of healthcare access is associated with higher mortality rates. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that individuals who gained access to Medicaid through the ACA had a 6% lower mortality rate than those who remained uninsured. Many people also benefited by the Medicaid expansion during the Covid pandemic.  When the Medicaid expansion expires post-Covid, especially in the Southern states, people without healthcare are more likely to die at a younger age.

Another problem is that in some parts of the U.S., local hospitals, particularly maternity hospitals, have closed, which increases the risk of death in pregnant women and their babies.

In addition, differences in attitudes towards vaccines, science, and access to healthcare also contributed to a higher death rate during the pandemic in Republican communities, compared to Democratic leaning communities.  

All this adds up to a terrifying reality. The map above shows that people in the darkest blue counties have an average age at death of 86.8 years, while those who live in the darkest red communities have an average age at death of 66.8 years, which is a 20 year difference in the average age at death, all based on the political values of the county where you live. 

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also impact an individual's lifespan. Republicans have generally been skeptical of environmental policies which aim to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment. In contrast, Democrats support these policies, especially in the states where they live. 

Research has shown that exposure to air pollution and other environmental factors can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including respiratory diseases and cancer. A study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that exposure to air pollution was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer. 

Of course, some highly polluted cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, are in Democratic leaning areas, while many Republicans live in rural, Midwestern areas which may seem to have less air pollution from industry and cars. On the other hand, people in rural areas are more likely to be subjected to exposure to farm pollution, such as chemicals dropped from crop dusters, which can also be deadly.  Despite the higher air pollution in certain Democratic cities, the states of California and New York still have the second and third highest life expectancies in the U.S.  (Hawaii has the highest).  Any health damage caused by pollution may be offset by the other health advantages available to the residents of Democratic states.


Education is an important factor in an individual's socioeconomic status and overall health outcomes. Democrats generally support policies which attempt to increase access to education, such as affordable college tuition and student loan forgiveness. In contrast, Republicans are more skeptical of policies designed to increase equal educational opportunities for all. 

The problem with lower educational opportunities in some states is that research shows that higher levels of education are associated with lower mortality rates. A study by the American Journal of Public Health found that individuals with a college degree had a 28% lower mortality rate than those without a high school degree. Improving educational opportunities, and making higher education more affordable, is one way to improve the lifespan of the citizens of a state.

Income Inequality

Income inequality is another factor which can impact an individual's lifespan. Republicans generally support policies which favor the wealthy, such as tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation of the financial sector. In contrast, Democrats support policies which aim to reduce income inequality, such as progressive taxation, increasing the minimum wage and supporting programs such as Social Security and financial safety nets for the poorest Americans.

Researchers have found that income inequality is associated with higher mortality rates, including a study by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which discovered that income inequality was associated with a shorter lifespan. Many Republican leaning Southern states in the U.S., including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas, are among the poorest states and also tend to be places where people do not live as long. Essentially, poverty kills.


Stress is another factor which can impact an individual's lifespan and this is something which can affect both Republicans and Democrats, although they often have different sources of stress. Republicans who live in areas where there is a lot of poverty may experience more stress due to economic insecurity, while certain groups of Democrats may experience more stress due to discrimination and social inequality. 

Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and depression. A study by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that job stress was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  It is hard to assess how different types of stress can affect lifespan, but regardless of where you live, your life expectancy will probably be longer if you feel less stressed.   


In conclusion, where you live and your political affiliation may affect how long you will live. This is due to a wide variety of factors, including gun violence, healthcare access, environmental factors in your community, access to higher education in your state, the income inequality or discrimination you experience, and your overall stress.  Of course, where you live is not the ONLY factor which will determine how long you will live.  Your longevity will also be determined by your genes, how well you take care of yourself, whether you smoke, get exercise, eat right, and other issues.  However, just knowing that there is a 20 year longevity difference in the United States between the most strongly Republican and Democratic counties is certainly something to consider when thinking about where you want to live and raise a family.

Since this topic may be controversial to some readers, you can find a full list of the citations for this research at the end of this article, and explore the research which interests you the most.  By reading the background material, you may even find ways to reduce the impact of these issues on your personal life.  

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“America Under Fire: An Analysis of Gun Violence in the United States and the Link to Weak Gun Laws.” Center for American Progress, 2016.

“2021 Gun Law State Scorecard.” Giffords Law Center, 2021.

Kaufman, Elinore J., et al. “Rural–Urban Differences in Firearm Ownership and Storage Practices Among Adult Owners in Alaska.” Journal of Rural Health, vol. 35, no. 2, 2019, pp. 213–21.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports. Available from:

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Brauer M, Hoek G, van Vliet P, et al. Air pollution from particulate matter emissions in the European Union decreases life expectancy by almost a year. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019; 116(52):26211-6.

Lipsett MJ. Air pollution and cardiovascular disease. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1997; 105(Suppl 1):23-8.

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Marmot MG, Wilkinson RG. Social determinants of health. Oxford University Press; 2005.

Epel ES, McEwen B, Seeman T, et al. Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2000; 62(5):623-32.

McEwen BS. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 1998; 338(3):171-9.

Landsbergis PA, Dobson M, Koutsouras G, Schnall P. Job strain and ambulatory blood pressure: a meta-analysis and systematic review. American Journal of Public Health. 2013; 103(3):e61-e71.