Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Female mortality rates vary based on state's economic and social environment, says study

A state's economic and social environment plays a significant role in how long women live, says a study published in SSM Population Health. An investigation by The Washington Post found that the death rate of rural white women increased 23 percent in the past 15 years, compared to a 16 percent increase for white men and decreases of between 10 to 20 percent among black and Hispanic men and women. The new study may answer some questions as to why those statistics varied so widely. (Mortality rates for women ages 45-89) 
The study, which used data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, a broad federal survey of millions of Americans, looked at state and personal characteristics, such as welfare, tobacco tax rate, social ties through sports clubs, churchgoing and the level of economic inequality, Sabrina Tavernise reports for The New York Times. Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, told Tavernise, "What’s really interesting is that women are more vulnerable than men. We didn’t know that before. It says something about women in this era.”

Women still live longer than men, but the gap has narrowed since the 1970s, Tavernise writes. "Two major social changes may hold some answers: Women went to work en masse, and many more of them began to raise children on their own. Professor Berkman said. "This has been something of a double shift, especially for low and middle-income American women, many of whom are not protected by maternity and parental leave policies."

"Many of the states that had the best economic and social scores had the lowest overall mortality for women," while "many with the lowest social and economic scores had the highest mortality," Tavernise writes. States with the lowest mortality rates are: Hawaii, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, Kansas, Wisconsin, Montana and Oregon. The highest mortality rates are in Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Wyoming, Tennessee, West Virginia and Nevada.

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