Cara Demers: Your address says a lot about you and your future

A double exposure in camera shows the disparity of a home on Club Road in Upper Arlington, top, and a home on West Chapel Street in Franklinton, bottom, Thursday afternoon, July 9, 2015. A recent Urban Institute report illustrates Columbus as a metro area with an especially stark contrast in income and housing. One of the two most disadvantaged census tracts cited in the report is here in Franklinton. (The Columbus Dispatch / Eamon Queeney)

“I can pretty much predict your life expectancy by where you live.”

That is what Anthony B. Iton, senior vice president of healthy communities for California, told Colorado Health in a recent article.

“[An address],” he said, “tells me about your income, your education, health amenities [and] employment opportunities.”

To put this into perspective, take the city of Oakland, California. Residents there have an average life expectancy of 74 years, compared to much of the rest of the country’s average of 80. America’s poorest zip code of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, has an average life expectancy of just 54.5, according to Orleans Parish has a majority population of African Americans.

County HealthAn article published by Harvard’s School of Public Health suggests that a person’s zip code might be a better indication of health than would be their genetic code.

So what does this mean? It means that health is yet just another divide that we can tack onto income inequality. Not only are neighborhoods segregated, but so are their resources, which gives particular neighborhoods, ethnicities and groups of people segregated life expectancies to go along with it.

Like many other components of inequality, the issues that arise with health are something that won’t be easily changed. As Culture of Health reports, this is not a new concept, nor is neighborhood segregation. According to them, the only way to tackle this once and for all is to give us all a level playing field: access to equal health, resources and living conditions.

But in a world full of vast inequality, is that even possible?



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