Montgomery County’s average life expectancy is higher than in the rest of the country, but falls short of neighboring counties in Virginia, according to data released Monday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University.
The average life expectancy in this county is 84 years, based on the research from the health-focused philanthropy and the university. The national average is a few years shorter—at 78.8 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Residents of Virginia’s Arlington and Fairfax counties have a life expectancy of 86 years, while the expectancy rate for both Prince George’s and Washington, D.C., falls just below the national average at 78 years.
Ulder Tillman, a county health officer and the chief of public health services, said the county’s higher-than-average life expectancy could probably be attributed to the area’s economic resources, access to health care and education level.
“Montgomery County is the healthiest county in the state of Maryland at this point at least for health outcomes,” Tillman said. “The demographics of our county [make it] predisposed to healthier individuals.”
Tillman noted the foundation’s findings made sense given that seniors tend to live longer in the county and more residents are college-educated, but she cautioned the life expectancy rate would vary among different racial and economic groups and the new data only represents the total average.
The foundation data also showed the county has a higher high school graduation rate than the District and Prince George’s County and has lower rates of unemployment and children living in poverty.
The county has comparable rates to Arlington and Fairfax counties in those areas, but has a higher percentage of “severe housing,” which the researchers define as housing that is overcrowded, high cost or lacking a kitchen or plumbing. While the researchers classified 18 percent of housing as “severe” in Montgomery, only 14 percent and 15 percent of housing was in the same category for Arlington and Fairfax, respectively.
The researchers are working to delineate this data by each ZIP code, although that data is not yet available.