Where you live in the U.S. predicts how long you’ll live

This three-and-a-half minute video from John Green discusses something a bit surprising: Your neighborhood, specifically your zip code, is strongly correlated with your life expectancy. Even a distance of a few miles can make a big difference, and the difference can be drastic, as much as 20 years.

Despite how Green makes it sound in the first part of the video, it’s unlikely that location by itself directly causes all the difference in life expectancy. Some neighborhoods do have higher levels of pollution or violence, so living there can be dangerous. It’s also true that some neighborhoods have less access to fresh food and places to exercise safely. So there probably is some geographical cause and effect.

But the U.S. also tends to be segregated by wealth, and it may be the difference in wealth rather than the difference in geography per se that explains the difference in average age of death. There are many other complications as well.

Anyway, it’s interesting, not to mention troubling and surprising that the difference is so large:

Link: https://youtu.be/SOtoaloIoII

Research into this has been going on for years. Doing a web search for “zip code life expectancy” will turn up links to many articles and videos. Here’s an article from my public radio station’s website in 2015 showing large differences in life expectancy even with a narrow area of the North Carolina Research Triangle.

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