On the Geography of U.S. Life Expectancy for Politico

Over at Nationhood Lab — the project I founded at the Pell Center — we recently produced an American Nations-driven analysis of the regional geography of U.S. life expectancy wherein we showed 3- to 5-year differences between the regions, a gap comparable to that separating the U.S. from Bulgaria, Libya, and the Philippines. The gaps didn’t go away when we parsed by race, urbanity, impoverishment, education or access to quality health care, but they did match the geographic patterns we previously found for diabetes, obesity, and gun deaths.

I wrote a companion magazine story for POLITICO — “America’s Surprising Partisan Divide on Life Expectancy” — which posted last Friday and rose to be the most read story on that news site Saturday afternoon. No, I don’t write the headlines, but here’s what I did write: “The geography of U.S. life expectancy — and the policy environments that determine it — is the result of differences that are regional, cultural and political, with roots going back centuries to the people who arrived on the continent with totally different ideas about equality, the proper role of government, and the correct balance point between individual liberty and the common good. Once you understand how the country was colonized — and by whom — a number of insights into Americans’ overall health and longevity are revealed, along with some paths to improve the situation.”

The story made the respected Sunday Long Read newsletter’s picks of the best longform writing of the week and inspired a columnist at New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor

My last story for POLITICO was on Nationhood Lab’s geography of gun violence package and was, as of mid-May at least, their most read story of 2023.