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Life in the neighborhood


New study links life expectancy to community lived in



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January 16, 2019
TRI-CITY AREA — According to new localized life expectancy estimates, residents can share the same zip code but have different opportunities for a long life.

The U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project offers neighborhood-by-neighborhood health data and, in the Tri-City area, it suggests that people living in townships generally live longer than village or city residents.

Overall, people who resided in the villages of Almont and Capac and the city of Imlay City had lower life expectancies at birth than their neighbors in the townships that encompass them—Almont, Mussey and Imlay townships, respectively (See box). In Almont and Imlay City, the difference could be considered marginal at about two fewer years. In Capac, residents' life expectancy was four years less than Mussey.

In Dryden, residents of both the village and township registered the same number of years, 78.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says they will analyze the new data working in coordination with local health partners in an effort to improve health outcomes.

"With this kind of information, community leaders can examine the factors that may be influencing differences in longevity—such as access to health care, safe and affordable housing, educational opportunities, and other factors that impact the health of community members—and target solutions more effectively," the department said in a press release.

The United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project is a joint effort of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems that serves as the national nonprofit organization representing the state vital records and public health statistics offices in the United States, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Every day MDHHS works to protect, preserve and promote the health and safety of the people of Michigan," said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive.

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"This new data is exciting because it gives us a greater opportunity to better address barriers to healthier and longer lives for Michigan residents. We look forward to working with our local health department partners and others to take positive action based on thorough analysis of this new

information now

available at the

neighborhood level."

State health officials stress that this Census tract-level data makes it easier to create a more complete picture of health at a local level but adds that "statistical measures such as life expectancy need to be evaluated with caution. These estimates can vary simply due to random variation or data errors."

For more information on the U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project and to access life expectancy estimates by neighborhood, visit www.naphsis.org/usaleep.

• • • • •

•The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years—76.1 years for men and 81.1 years for women.

•In 1960 the expectation of life at birth was just 69.7 in the U.S. Today that number stands at 78.6, falling short of projections the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2004. At that time, it was believed life expectancy would reach 79.2 years in 2015.

•Almont Township, using an address at its approximate geographic center, had the highest life expectancy rate in the Tri-City area with 80.3 years. Lapeer County's average slightly exceeded the Michigan average while St. Clair County's life expectancy average was slightly below the state figure. Overall, Michigan's life expectancy is slightly lower than the national average.

•Although other data usually analyzed in tandem with health-related matters, like poverty rates, aren't available in the same neighborhood localized format, the Census Bureau does distinguish between municipalities that share the same zip code. It shows that locally the percent of individuals living below the poverty level was highest in the city of Imlay City at 20.1%, followed by the village of Capac (18.1%) and Lynn Twp. (15.9%).

The communities with the lowest rates were Berlin Twp. (6.8%), Almont Twp. (5.4%) and Dryden Twp. (4.9%)

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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