Health and Voting

June 16, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

Maps showing county-level data:
  • Change in life expectancy 1987-2007
  • Change in the Presidential vote – 2004 - 2008 (blue indicates a shift to the Dems, brown a shift to the GOP)

I haven’t gotten the data and computed a measure of association, but the maps look very similar to my eye. Counties that swung right in 2008 are much more likely to have experienced a smaller increase (and in some cases a decrease) in life expectancy.

What’s going on here? Health care was a big issue in the 2008 election. It looks as though counties that had experienced the worst health outcomes in the previous two decades were voting to keep the medical status quo. Counties where life expectancy had increased were voting for a change.

The voting map is here. The life expectancy map is here, and the original study with interactive maps is here. Click on a county and find its life expectancy by race and sex, also short comparison lists of countries where LE is longer and where LE is shorter. The results are not encouraging. The title of the study is, “Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context.”

HT: Mark Kleiman

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