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Indicator 1 7 : Life expectancy

Goal: Minnesotans will be healthy. This goal encompasses both physical and mental health throughout life. It is also aimed at reducing disparities in health status among racial and ethnic minorities. Indicators for the goal deal with both health status and health care.

Rationale: Life expectancy is used worldwide as a broad snapshot of human health.

Expected years of life remaining at birth


Data source: National Center for Health Statistics and State Demographic Center at Minnesota Planning

Expected years of life remaining at age 65


Data source: National Center for Health Statistics and State Demographic Center at Minnesota Planning

About this indicator: Since 1980, the life expectancy for Minnesota newborns has increased by almost three years and for 65-year-olds by 1.4 years. Life expectancy takes into account all causes of death at any point after birth.

Minnesota women have a longer life expectancy at birth than men, but the gap narrowed from 7.3 years in 1980 to 5.0 years in 2000. At age 65 the gap is smaller at 3.4 years.

Minnesota's long life expectancy is not shared equally by all racial and ethnic groups. In 1990, the life expectancy of Blacks/African Americans and American Indians fell far short of life expectancy for Whites. In 2001, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $13.9 million for a statewide health disparities initiative.

Data for life expectancy is calculated periodically from population and mortality rates.

For comparison: In 1995, the U.S. average life expectancy was 75.8 years at birth (compared to 78 in Minnesota) and 17.4 years at age 65 (compared to 18.2 in Minnesota). By 1999, the national figures increased slightly to 76.7 and 17.7, respectively. Minnesota data is not available for 1999.

Things to think about: In 1999, accidents (primarily motor vehicle) were the leading cause of death for Minnesotans under age 34. Between ages 15 and 34, the second leading cause of death was suicide. From ages 35 to 74, the largest number of deaths were from cancer. After the age of 75, heart disease was the leading cause of death.

Technical notes: Population rates are collected by the Census, which takes place every ten years; mortality data is released annually.


  • The State Demographic Center at Minnesota Planning, publication forthcoming,
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report,

Related indicators:

Other related indicators:

  • Percentage of children under 18 covered by health insurance (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Life expectancy by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Planning, State Demographic Center,
  • Suicide rate by gender and age (Minnesota Department of Health, )
  • Percentage of adults who abuse alcohol (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Percentage of Minnesotans who use seatbelts regularly (Minnesota Department of Public Safety,
  • Percentage of adults who are significantly overweight (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Cancer rate (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Infectious disease rate (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Leading causes of death for selected age groups by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Department of Health,
  • Satisfaction with medical care from one's primary clinic (University of Minnesota, Institute for Health Services Research)
  • Percentage of adults who exercise regularly (Minnesota Department of Health,

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