Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cause of Death: Bad Neighborhoods

Although life expectancy in the US has increased by 30 years in the last century, if you live in a neighborhood with high poverty rates, chances are, you and your family can’t expect to live as long as those living in affluent communities. People who live in West Oakland die an average of 10 years earlier than those who live the Berkeley Hills and Bay View/Hunter’s Point residents die 14 years earlier than those living on Russian Hill.

A report published in Race Poverty and the Environment, a project of Urban Habitat shows that the neighborhood you live in directly impacts your health.

Bob Prentice, Director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) writes that physical and social improvements such as food and water sanitations, workplace and traffic safety, declines in tobacco use, and housing conditions have contributed more to life expectancy than advances in antibiotics and vaccines over the past century.

Community economic development may have more than an economic impact on low-income communities; it may help people in these communities live longer and healthier lives. Women’s Initiative has been awarded a grant from the UCSF’s University Community Partnerships Council to investigate the relationship between economic development and health. Together with our university partners, Dr. Claire Brindis and Dr. Mary Kreger and at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF Women’s Initiative will be studying the impact of microenterprise development on community health and well-being, especially that of mothers and their children.

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