Community Factors and Life Expectancy

“When we controlled for historical life expectancy, we found three additional community factors that each exert a significant negative effect — a greater number of fast food restaurants, higher population density, and a greater share of jobs in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction,” Dobis said. “For example, for every one percentage point increase in the number of fast food restaurants in a county, life expectancy declined by .004 years for men and .006 years for women.”

Community factors influence how long you’ll live

Journal Reference:     Elizabeth A. Dobis, Heather M. Stephens, Mark Skidmore, Stephan J. Goetz. Explaining the spatial variation in American life expectancy. Social Science & Medicine, 2020; 246: 112759 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112759

 

America’s Declining Well-Being, Health, and Life Expectancy

Abstract

Although recent declines in life expectancy among non-Hispanic Whites, coined “deaths of despair,” grabbed the headlines of most major media outlets, this is neither a recent problem nor is it confined to Whites. The decline in America’s health has been described in the public health literature for decades and has long been hypothesized to be attributable to an array of worsening psychosocial problems that are not specific to Whites.  To test some of the dominant hypotheses, we show how various measures of despair have been increasing in the United States since 1980 and how these trends relate to changes in health and longevity. We show that mortality increases among Whites caused by the opioid epidemic come on the heels of the crack and HIV syndemic among Blacks. Both occurred on top of already higher mortality rates among all Americans relative to people in other nations, and both occurred among declines in measures of well-being.  We believe that the attention given to Whites is distracting researchers and policymakers from much more serious, longer-term structural problems that affect all Americans. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print September 25, 2018: e1–e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304585)

Interesting AJPH analysis which can be accessed at this link.

The article has a link to the complete analysis in PDF.

US Towns With the Shortest Life Expectancy

Link to The Oklahoman article. 

(The article may be behind a paywall).

shortest LE_Screenshot_2018-09-23 The Oklahoman e-Edition

The Paradox

The National Center for Health Statistics narrowed its life expectancy data to census tracts of a few thousand people, which can be a small town, a large rural area or a neighborhood in a large city. Oklahoma’s least healthy areas are small towns and rural areas, but so are some of its healthiest, according to the life expectancy figures.

The highest life expectancy in Oklahoma — 89.4 years — is in a Caddo County census tract that surrounds, but doesn’t include, Anadarko. McCurtain County, in far southeast Oklahoma, is home to the second-highest life expectancy at 89 years. Sparsely populated parts of Pushmataha County, also in rural southeast Oklahoma, have an average life expectancy of 88 years.

Other long-living parts of Oklahoma include the area around Grand Lake State Park in Mayes County (86.7 years), southwest neighborhoods of Stillwater (86.6 years) and rural areas south of Kingfisher (86.1 years).

All of this bothers and intrigues me at the same time.

 

Education, not income, the best predictor of a long life

The researchers point out that better education leads to improved cognition and in turn to better choices for health-related behaviours. Recent decades have seen a shift in the disease burden from infectious to chronic diseases, the latter of which are largely lifestyle-related. As time goes on, the link between education and better health choices, and therefore life expectancy, will become even more apparent.

Read the source article here.

Download the original study at this link.

I should have gone to graduate school.