If you want to live to a ripe old age, live on Shelter Island.
That’s what new data, published by the Associated Press, reveals, with life expectancy here pegged at just a shade less than 93 years.
According to the new information, gathered from census data, Shelter Island has the highest life expectancy of any Long Island community, with North Bellport coming in with the lowest at 73.2 years.
Living in New York state, people can expect to have a life expectancy of 81, third highest in the nation. Hawaii has the highest rate at 82 years, while Mississippi has the lowest at about 75 years.
As the AP points out, the disparity in life expectancy from community to community has to do with several factors, including household income, education, employment, race and access to health care defining how long people will live.
Newsday quoted Lawrence Levy of Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Studies, who said, “Almost without exception, the neighborhoods with the lowest life expectancy are the poorest and most minority.”
Shelter Island is blessed with prosperity, which increases life expectancy. Census data shows that the median income here is $94,000 and unemployment is a minuscule 2 percent. Almost everyone — 99 percent— is a high school graduate. The population is 90 percent white and the same percentage has health insurance.
Former Councilwoman Chris Lewis, president of the Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island, believes there is another reason why people tend to live longer here. It’s something about the way we live, Ms. Lewis said.
“The ferries slow things down, we’re not always rushing somewhere,” she said.
And an island community encourages closeness. “Neighbors look after our seniors,” she said, and the town’s Office of Senior Services is dedicated to making life interesting and comfortable for the older population.
“There are so many activities, and a real support network,” Ms. Lewis said. “We care for each other here.”
On Long Island
Highest: Shelter Island — 92.9
Lowest: North Bellport — 73.2
Highest: Hawaii — 82
Lowest: Mississippi — 74.9 years
New York State: — 81
Highest: Iceland — 87
Lowest: Swaziland — 47.36
United States — 78.7 years
Statistics: The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, United States Census Bureau