Your life expectancy depends on where you live, new report shows

A new report from the Episcopal Health Foundation, released this morning, shows that your life expectancy varies by neighborhood in Texas. The report finds that a number of social determinants are responsible for this variation. 

The report uses an interactive map tool to determine the life expectancy of individual neighborhoods across Texas. 4,700 neighborhoods were analyzed using Census data. 

Despite some neighborhoods only being miles apart, the life expectancy of residents varies by 17 years in some areas. According to the map, income levels, educational attainment, and neighborhood racial composition had the most dramatic effects on life expectancy. 

“Drive 15 minutes through the biggest counties in Texas and you can go from a neighborhood where people usually live more than 85 years to another where the average person dies before he or she is 65,”  Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation said in a press release sent directly to State of Reform. 

Episcopoal Health Foundation determined that the median life expectancy is 77.8 years. The report found that there is a sizeable 11-year difference between the life life expectancy in the bottom 5% of neighborhoods at 72.1 years, and the top 5% at 83.3 years. The gap between the top and bottom 1% of Texas neighborhoods in life expectancy rates widens to nearly 17 years. 

Counties in the bottom 5% include: Ector County with a life expectancy of 71.3 years, Lubbock County at 71.7 years, and San Augustine County at 66.6 years. 

Counties in the top 5% include: Duval County with a life expectancy of 89.1 years, Brewster County at 87.8 years, and Carson County at 87.7 years. 

In counties with the highest life expectancy, 53% of residents are White, 31% of residents are Hispanic or Latino and 7% are Black or African American. In contrast, 62% of people living in census tracts at the bottom quintile of life expectancy are either Black or Hispanic and 35% are White.


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Poverty rates, according to the report, follow a similar pattern. In counties with the lowest life expectancy, 27% of the population reported living below the federal poverty line (FPL). In neighborhoods with the highest life expectancy rates, the poverty level was much lower at 11% of FPL. 

And, education rates also impact the life expectancy rates across the state. The report finds that, “more than 40% of adult Texans in the highest life expectancy neighborhoods had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 12% of residents in the group of neighborhoods with the lowest life expectancy had a college degree or higher.” 

“These numbers should spark important conversations across the state on how we can all take action to address the non-medical, root causes of these dramatic differences in health,” Marks said in a press release.