Life expectancy in the United States has generally been on the rise. Between 1960 and 2019, the life expectancy of Americans rose by roughly a decade to the age of 79. Greater longevity can be attributed to improved health care such as diagnostic and medical advancements, as well as healthier lifestyle choices relating to diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Since 2020, however, life expectancy has started to decline. The opioid epidemic, COVID-19, and unintentional injuries—largely driven by drug overdoses—were the leading causes of a three-year decrease in life expectancy over the last two years. Stark disparities among certain segments of the population have also been observed. American Indians/Alaska Natives saw a life expectancy decrease of more than six years; Hispanic and Black Americans, a drop of four years; and white and Asian Americans, a decrease of about two years.

While no one single factor determines the overall health of an entire community, certain socioeconomic and environmental factors such as access to health care, substance abuse treatments, clean air, clean water, and affordable housing contribute significantly to the general health and wellbeing of the entire population.

Using 2022 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Stacker identified counties with the shortest life expectancy in Massachusetts. Life expectancy measures the average number of years from birth a person can expect to live, and is calculated based on the number of deaths in a given time period and the average number of people at risk of dying during that period. Counties with unreliable or insufficient data were excluded from the analysis. Mortality data came from the National Vital Statistics System.

#9. Hampshire County

– Average life expectancy: 80.2 years (same as statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #5
— Length of life rank: #5
— Quality of life rank: #7

#8. Essex County

– Average life expectancy: 79.9 years (0.3 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #6
— Length of life rank: #7
— Quality of life rank: #9

#7. Franklin County

– Average life expectancy: 79.6 years (0.6 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #8
— Length of life rank: #10
— Quality of life rank: #6

#6. Barnstable County

– Average life expectancy: 79.5 years (0.7 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #9
— Length of life rank: #11
— Quality of life rank: #5

#5. Plymouth County

– Average life expectancy: 79.4 years (0.8 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #7
— Length of life rank: #8
— Quality of life rank: #8

#4. Worcester County

– Average life expectancy: 79.1 years (1.1 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #11
— Length of life rank: #9
— Quality of life rank: #10

#3. Bristol County

– Average life expectancy: 78.3 years (1.9 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #12
— Length of life rank: #12
— Quality of life rank: #13

#2. Berkshire County

– Average life expectancy: 78 years (2.2 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #13
— Length of life rank: #14
— Quality of life rank: #11

#1. Hampden County

– Average life expectancy: 77.4 years (2.8 less than the statewide average)
– Health outcomes statewide rank: #14
— Length of life rank: #13
— Quality of life rank: #14