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Study Shows Relation Between Cook County Neighborhoods And Life Expectancy

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Jul 27, 2012 10:20PM

As a result of the racial and economic segregation of Cook County neighborhoods, life expectancy varies along neighborhood lines, according to a study by The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The study found that residents of neighborhoods with an annual median income above $53,000 live almost 14 years longer than those with median incomes below $25,000.

Those with lower income tend to live in less safe neighborhoods with less access to fresh food and quality health care. Of course the segregation splits the city in half. The census statistics also showed that more than a quarter of Cook County census tracts have experienced persistent poverty, "meaning that at least 20% of households have been in poverty for two decades.

The study reads [PDF]:

Health outcomes are influenced by several factors—the quality and extent of medical care one receives, individual behaviors such as those that affect nutrition or exercise, and institutional policies and social structures that are beyond the control of individuals. Choices, tastes, and preferences are shaped by, and to a significant degree are determined by, income and occupation. The present mainstream emphasis on educating individuals about “lifestyle choices” is deceptive: It inaccurately presumes that how much money or other resources one has is irrelevant.

“We just don’t let little kids die when they don’t have to," Bonnie Rateree of the Harvey Community Center told WBEZ. "We don’t let people die in their 40s and 50s when they can live to be 70. That’s just criminal.”