Liberal State Policies Improve Life Expectancy




Karas Montez, Jennifer
Beckfield, Jason
Kemp Cooney, Julene
Grumbach, Jacob M.
Hayward, Mark D.
Zeyd Koytak, Huseyin
Woolf, Steven H.
Zajacova, Anna

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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center



Life expectancy of people in the United States ranks last among 22 high-income countries. National averages obscure large differences within the states, which in 2017 ranged from a high of 81.6 years Hawaii to a low of 74.6 years in West Virginia. The state policy environment is critical to understanding these large disparities among U.S. states. In this study, former PRC trainee Jennifer Karas Montez, along with PRC faculty research associate Mark Hayward and co-authors, examine the impact of state policies on life expectancy in U.S. states from 1970 to 2014. They find that states that implemented more liberal policies that expanded economic regulations and protected marginalized groups saw a rise in their life expectancy while states that implemented more conservative policies were more likely to see a lowering of life expectancy for its residents.

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