Alameda County Report Traces Causes of Lower Life Expectancies
Life expectancy is linked to a variety of factors, including race, education, income and housing, in addition to widening health disparities for individuals in Alameda County, according to a new report by the county public health department, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The report, called "Life and Death From Unnatural Causes in Alameda County," examined 45 years' worth of death certificates and other vital statistics and mapped the data by geographic location.
An executive summary of the report was released Thursday, but complete findings will not be released until May.
The report found that illness is concentrated among low-income residents and people of color because of social, economic, transportation, housing and education inequities.
Life expectancy for white county resident rose from 72 years in 1960 to over 80 in 2005, while life expectancy for blacks increased from about 68 years in 1960 to about 73 in 2005 (Hill, Oakland Tribune, 4/17).
Areas with a higher high school graduation rate also had higher life expectancy rates. Residents of neighborhoods with a high school graduation rate under 70% live five years fewer on average than residents of neighborhoods with a graduation rate of at least 90%.
Homicide rates also were factored into the report.
Bob Prentice, director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, said the report represents "a different way of thinking about community work, a rethinking of what a public health department means" (Fernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18).
Tony Iton, the county's public health director said the report "has almost nothing to do with medical care ... this is about housing, about education, employment and how these things are inextricably linked to health" (Oakland Tribune, 4/17).