Sunday, November 09, 2008

20-year life gap separates a city's poorest and wealthiest

A 20-year difference in life expectancy between a low-income neighborhood and an upscale area across town has been revealed in data compiled by the Baltimore Health Department.

In West Baltimore's impoverished Hollins Market neighborhood, the average life expectancy is about 63 years. Across town in wealthy Roland Park, residents live on average to be 83.

In some impoverished neighborhoods, the death rates from heart disease and stroke are more than twice as high as in wealthier places just a few blocks or miles away. At the extreme, the difference in mortality rates between some neighborhoods is as wide as the disparity in life expectancy between the United States and a Third World nation such as Burma.

Although Baltimore's poorer neighborhoods tend to be African-American, there was not a strong relationship between density of black residents and lower life expectancy, said Caroline Fichtenberg, project leader and the city's chief epidemiologist. Income and other factors show a stronger relationship. Residents lived 3.4 years longer for every increase of $10,000 in income.

In 10 communities, homicides are the single largest cause of lost years of life -- robbing neighborhoods of productive years.

Read the Baltimore Sun story here.


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