In 1949, the Oklahoma legislature proclaimed Stilwell, in the Ozark foothills near the Arkansas border, the Strawberry Capital of the World.
This week, Stilwell earned a more discouraging distinction: It has the lowest life expectancy in the country — just 56.3 years, according to the most detailed local health data ever released by the National Center for Health Statistics.
That means folks there are expected to die 22.5 years — an entire generation — earlier than the comparable national average of 78.8 years.
People living in several wealthier neighborhoods, often in urban areas and suburbs, enjoy life expectancy into their 90s, an illustration of how growing inequality determines fundamental aspects of Americans’ lives and well-being.
“People who live blocks apart can have very different expectations in how long they’ll live because of the conditions in which people are living,” said Donald Schwarz, a senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “That represents uneven opportunity for people, particularly children, to have long lives.”
The average life spans in the data set are based primarily on who dies in a neighborhood. They reflect an accumulated lifetime of moving, marrying and working. Changing your address won’t magically add or subtract years from your life, but on average the people who moved to Stilwell, and the people who already lived there, combined, would be expected to die at around 56.3 years of age.
Life expectancy tends to be strongly linked to differences along racial and economic lines. In many cases, someone can be consigned to a dramatically shorter life than a person who lives a few blocks or miles away because of her race or income.
The government partnered with the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information in a three-year effort to calculate life expectancy for 65,662 Census tracts nationwide. Find out if where you live affects how long you will live…click here.
Read the entire article at the The Washington Post.