The average life expectancy of Orange County residents has improved by five years over the past two decades to 81.9, nearly four years above the national average, according to Orange County Health Care Agency report released today.
Babies born in Orange County in 1990 were expected to live until 76.9, but 20 years later the life expectancy has gone up to nearly 82.
"We are very pleased that life expectancy in Orange County is at a new high," said Orange County Health Care Agency Director Mark Refowitz. "But there is still more to do in reducing health disparities within our community."
Race, ethnicity and class play a role in how long Orange County residents live, according to the report.
In north and central county cities, residents have a life expectancy of 79.4, but in the southern cities such as Aliso Viejo the life expectancy is 84.1, according to the report.
"A possible explanation for the geographic variation in life expectancies is the influence of socioeconomic factors such as education, income and city of residence," according to the report. "We found that life expectancy was correlated with several socioeconomic factors. For example, a strong relationship was found between estimated life expectancy and the percentage of a city's adults who have a college degree. Specificially, life expectancy in cities with more college-educated residents is much longer than those with fewer college graduates."
A family's median income also plays a role, with more affluent children living longer, according to the report.
"Similarly, there is an inverse relationship between average life expectancy and the percentage of adults in a city who do not have health insurance," according to the report. "Adults (18 to 64 years old) from cities with lower rates of uninsured tend to live longer than those cities with more uninsured residents."
Asian/Pacific Islanders boast the highest average life expectancy of 85 years, with Latinos in second at 83.1 years. Whites are expected to live until 80.9 and blacks have the lowest life expectancy at 78.2.
Women in Orange County are expected to live until 83.9, compared with men at 79.8.
Women generally live longer throughout the country because men are more likely to fall victim to homicide, suicide, car crashes and other risky behavior.
Access to exercise, health insurance and education contribute to longevity, the report concludes.
"Cities whose residents have lower educational attainment, earn less and have higher rates of poverty have notably lower life expectancies," the report said. "Those living in less affluent cities tend to have limited access to healthcare, more uninsured, fewer opportunities to engage in healthy behaviors, and fewer resources. Increased access to health care and reduced premature mortality due to preventable causes would help reduce disparities and increase life expectancy in Orange County."
- City News Service