New Charts Illustrate Life Expectancy through Subway and Interstate Maps

September 11, 2013

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has updated its DC-Metro life expectancy map and has included maps for other areas based on data produced by the Center’s Place Matters study. The maps give a clear example of how life expectancy differs within a small geographic area and how even though we attribute so much of our health to our medical care, how long you live may be better predicted by where you live.

Figure 1. A map of the DC metro area, illustrating how life expectancy differs based on where you live.

Figure 1. A map of the DC metro area, illustrating how life expectancy differs based on where you live.

Figure 1 shows the Washington D.C. map with life expectancy based on different stops along the metro transit system.  This map has been updated from RWJF’s previous version and is based on data calculated by the Center’s staff. As the map shows, living in Arlington County can mean six more years of life compared to living in Washington D.C.

Figure 2. A map of New Orleans, showing where in the city residents are expected to live longer and shorter lives.

Figure 2. A map of New Orleans, showing where in the city residents are expected to live longer and shorter lives.

The project also looked at Minneapolis, MN; the San Joaquin Valley in California; and Kansas City, MO. The interstate map of New Orleans has probably the most startling disparities. Residents of Iberville, a neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter, have a life expectancy of 55 years, while people who live a few miles away in the Seventh Ward are expected to live 11 years longer. Our research shows that those living in Iberville also have a higher rate of death by cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes than other areas of New Orleans.

Our Place Matters report on New Orleans goes into greater detail about how areas of low life expectancy coincide with higher rates of adverse social and economic factors. Iberville also has the third largest population of people over 25 without a high school diploma in New Orleans, an illustration of the correlation between education and health that becomes even more apparent through these maps.

You can find the reports on other areas explored in the Place Matters study on our website.

This story was originally published with the VCU Center on Society and Health. More information on the subject can be found on their blog.

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