Disparities in Life Expectancy Found at the Census Tract Level – Harvard Gazette
Life expectancy in the United States varies widely when analyzed at the census tract level, and the method can provide a more detailed picture of health disparities in the United States than other widely used analyzes of life expectancy, according to new research conducted by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. The study is the first to analyze life expectancy data at the local level across the contiguous United States, as well as at the state and county level.
The method can also provide a more detailed picture of health disparities in the United States than other widely used analyses. According to Census.govcensus tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a geographic area, with an average population of about 4,000.
“Our study shows that when it comes to geographic variation in life expectancy, it’s quite a local phenomenon,” said SV Subramanian, professor of population health and geography and co-author of the study. . “States are also very important, but counties are not.”
In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, the life expectancy is 77.4 years. In this county, researchers found one census tract with a life expectancy of 62 years and another census tract with a life expectancy of 86 years, a difference of 24 years. Similarly, at the county level, Chatham County, North Carolina, has a life expectancy of 80.4 years, but it contained a census tract with a life expectancy of 76.2 years and a tract of census with a life expectancy of 97.5 years – a 21 year difference.
Data on many public health indicators, including life expectancy, is often collected and analyzed at the county or state level. Legislation, policies, and programs that provide health care, economic assistance, and social services are administered and implemented at both levels, but focusing on counties or states may not highlight significant disparities in health at the local level.
For this study, the research team analyzed life expectancy data from 65,662 census tracts nestled in 3,020 counties in 48 states.
The analysis identified significant disparities in life expectancy at the census tract level within counties and states. The researchers also found that socioeconomic and demographic variables, particularly education, income, and race, were strongly associated with life expectancy at the census tract level.
Analyzing life expectancy and other public health data at the census tract level can help shed light on important local health disparities and help develop interventions and policies, say researchers. better and more targeted public health.
“Looking at the census tract level, we found large disparities within counties in the United States,” said Antonio Fernando Boing, researcher in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and co-author of the study. “Furthermore, we observed that socio-economic conditions explain a significant portion of the variation between census tracts. These results reinforce the importance of small geographic units when allocating resources and implementing policies aimed at increasing life expectancy in the United States.
Other Harvard Chan School researchers who contributed to the study are Alexandra Crispim Boing, Jack Cordes and Rockli Kim.