Neighborhoods Can Influence Health

For the first time, the government is making data publicly available to let people in the U.S see how where people live down can affect how long they may live. Although county, city, and zip code level data provides in-depth information, they often don’t tell the full story as neighborhoods right next to each other can experience drastically different opportunities for health and well-being.

Census tract level data is able to offer information on a much smaller and targeted group of people, For example, this data can show:

  • Variations in average life spans within cities and towns
  • Islands of disadvantage where people face serious health challenges and have shorter life spans
  • How living near a major highway or in a high crime neighborhood may affect residents’ life expectancy
  • How life expectancy can change just by living across the street or a block away

 

The data collected zeroes in on much smaller populations (about 4,000 people on average) to produce the story of health outcomes at a granular level. The information shows how life expectancy can change just by living across the street or a block away.

Go to https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/interactives/whereyouliveaffectshow long you live.html for the new resources accompanied by an interactive tool that allows you to plug in your full street address and see the live expectancy rates in your own neighborhood and how they compare to county and state level data as well as to the national average.

The United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP) https://naphsis.org/usaleep with the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/usaleep/usaleep.html, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) http://www.rwif.org/lifeexpectancy is a joint effort.

Go to https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_02/sr02_181.pdf for the Methods Brief. The Brief  has information on page 30 for the minimum and maximum life expectancy at birth for each state. However, data is not yet available for Maine and Wisconsin.

“The more local the data, the more useful it can be for pinpointing disparities and driving action,” said Don Schwarz, Vice President for Programs with RWJF. “By measuring health at the neighborhood level, USALEEP reveals gaps that may previously have gone unnoticed. We hope community leaders will use the data alongside other community-based metrics to target resources more effectively and achieve health equity.”

 

 

 

 

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