"It is no surprise that Americans are living longer today than in previous generations. A typical baby born in 1900 was expected to live to about age 45. Today, life expectancy at birth is about 78. Less well known, however, is the fact that the gains in life expectancy have not been uniform across the country. In his new studyâ€”the first of its kindâ€”Columbia University researcher Frank Lichtenberg set out to find out which states are the leaders, which ones are the laggards, and why.
Lichtenberg then set out to examine why this â€œlongevity increase gapâ€ exists by measuring the impact of several factors that researchers agree could affect life expectancy. He found that, although some obvious suspectsâ€”obesity, smoking, and the incidence of HIV/AIDSâ€”played a role, the most important factor was â€œmedical innovation.â€
Specifically, Lichtenberg found that longevity increased the most in those states where access to newer drugsâ€”measured by mean â€œvintageâ€ (FDA approval year)â€”in Medicaid and Medicare programs has increased the most. In fact, about two-thirds of the potential increase in longevityâ€”the longevity increase that would have occurred if obesity, income, and other factors had not changedâ€”is attributable to the use of newer drugs. "
Here's a link to the study:http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/mpr_04.htm