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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 22

Additional  Healthy People  Indicators

23 - Infectious Diseases

24 - Asthma

25 - Workplace Fatalities

Life Expectancy

Average expected number of years of life for New Jerseyans: Increasing

  Things to think about 

Up until the 1830s, even in wealthy industrial countries, people died on average by the age of 40. Today, we in New Jersey live some of the longest lives in the world.


Life expectancy is an important measure in its own right and can be a proxy measure for many other issues such as healthcare, wealth, opportunities, and education. Inequities in life expectancy signal inequities through this range of other issues. In New Jersey, those of us from some races live longer than those from others - a remarkable inequity in its own right and one that also indicates many other imbalances. Even with inequities, life expectancy has been increasing for everyone.


As we live longer, we are able to prolong our contributions to society and lead more active lives. We are able to earn more money. In fact, senior citizens are among the wealthiest of us. Our increased life span comes at a price. The medical care prolonging our lives is costly.


Some of us remember the "dust bowl" of the Great Depression. Even more of us can mourn the loss of natural places and wild animals known in our childhood. Longer life spans offer the opportunity to apply the environmental lessons of our past. It also means that each of us imposes a larger burden on the planet, which increases our individual responsibility for making environmentally sound decisions.


Lost years of life are perhaps the largest social loss. When family and loved ones are gone, we lose the knowledge and culture they held. When these losses are suffered disproportionately by some races, they help to perpetuate other inequities between races and weaken our whole social fabric.

Knowledge Gaps

Even though we live longer, some of us are uncomfortable, or in pain, during our later years. This indicator does not address the quality of life that we enjoy at older ages.

Data Source: NJ Department of Health & Senior Services

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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