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But Murray said his research finds migration theories are not the answer; there’s been little movement in or out of most places with the lowest life expectancy.

The counties with the largest increases in male life expectancy, though, were metro areas lush with jobs and universities _ almost four years in Georgia’s Fulton County (Atlanta) and more than three years in New York City, Washington and nearby Alexandria, Va.

For women, the biggest jumps _ 3 1/2 years _ were in Alexandria and a Wyoming County that includes the affluent Jackson Hole.

Curiously, third on that list was Louisiana’s Orleans Parish even though it included the 2005 devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. A large number of healthy women could have stayed in the city or returned the next two years, Rochat said.

“I think it’s a change in who’s living there,” he said.