This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, September 28, 2018

What's the Life Expectancy in Your Neighborhood?

Thanks to Professor RubĂ©n Rumbaut for linking me to an incredibly interesting story about a new resource that shows the life expectancy in your own neighborhood, and allows you to compare your neighborhood with other areas near or distant from you. The project is called "United States Small Area Life Expectancy Estimate Project" (USALEEP) and it is coordinated by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and the National Association for Public Health Information Systems with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
These new data are available to everyone via the easy-to-use interactive tool available above. Typing in your street address reveals the average life expectancy for a baby born in your census tract or area, if current death rates do not change. You can then compare your area to nearby neighborhoods or communities, to county- and state-level data, as well as the national average. If you have a neighbor down the street who happens to live in a different census tract, your results might even be different, which we hope will spark some conversation about the differences in conditions and opportunities for health where we live. Ultimately, we hope this will inspire residents and leaders to work together to close the gaps these data illuminate.
Here's what the entry pad looks like (don't try to click on this--it's just a picture)--go here for the real thing:


I typed in my address and was surprised in a very pleasant way to see that the life expectancy at birth in my census tract is 87.20, which is higher than San Diego County in general (81.43), which is higher than California in general (80.90), which is higher than the national average of 78.80 (these are rates for both sexes combined). The concern is obviously in finding those places that are below average, and then to figure out why they are low when other places are high. These kinds of spatial inequalities in life expectancy have become an increasing cause of concern, as I noted most recently a few months ago. To be sure, a map of life expectancy by county in the United States that I blogged about four years ago, has a geographic pattern that is very similar to the recent map I posted of counties still feeling the long-term negative impact of slavery.

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