Life expectancy for women drops in Delaware County

Excerpt of a map showing life expectancy for women in rural counties in America. Counties in yellow are seeing female life expectancy dropping. Source: Daily Yonder.

Sometimes, living in a rural place like Delaware County is like living in a Third World country. Case in point: According to a new study of the life expectancy of Americans, women living in Delaware County actually saw the number of years they are likely to live drop between 1997 and 2007.

This data was published in Population Health Metrics by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation, and analyzed by the excellent rural affairs blog the Daily Yonder, which analyzed the data. The Daily Yonder's analysis shows that Delaware County is one of 737 counties in the country -- marked in yellow in the graphic above -- where female life expectancy dropped. The overwhelming majority of those counties were rural, the Yonder notes:

Only 38 of those counties were urban; 138 were exurban counties; and 561 of the counties with declining female longevity were in rural America.

Delaware County's Catskills neighbors aren't faring so badly, according to the  Daily Yonder's analysis. In the graphic above, Delaware County, in yellow, is the only Catskills county where female life expectancy is actually dropping.

While life expectancy for rural women is falling farther behind national averages than for men, men in rural America are also dying sooner than the national average, the study shows.

The study has grim news for Americans in general: Our average life expectancy is falling behind that of other First World countries. The researchers point toward a nationwide decline in the quality of healthcare:

The researchers also note the “poor — and worsening — national and local performance of US communities” in terms of health care. “The critical insight this work underscores is something that we’ve known for years — that both health and health care are produced locally,” Elliott Fisher, a physician at Dartmouth Medical School who studies regional variations, told the Washington Post

To read more about the research and view interactive maps of the data, click here