We know that one of the outcomes of poverty and the consequent lack of high quality medical care is a shorter life. How big is that difference in Southeastern Michigan? It turns out that new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gives us an idea. That data, at the Census Tract level, shows that average life expectancy ranges from 62 in some inner city Detroit tracts to 90 in some suburban tracts.
As the second first map below shows, most of Livingston County was in the 76-80 years of age range, although there are 18 Census Tracts in Livingston County where the average life expectancy is between 86 to 90 years of age. It is in Wayne County where all the Census Tracts are located, with the exception of one, with the lowest average life expectancies. As the second map shows, in the City of Detroit, there are 14 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 62-65 years of age. Additionally, there are about 40 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 68-70. Most of these Census Tracts are located west of Highland Park, with several located along Grand River Avenue. The only other Census Tract in the region with an average life expectancy below 66 years of age is in Monroe County in the City of Monroe.
The extremes of the data are attenuated when we examine county averages as shown in the third map. The average life expectancy in Southeastern Michigan at the county level ranges from 74.5 years of age to 79.6 years of age. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years of age. At the county level, Livingston County has the highest average life expectancy at 79.6 years of age.
While there is no specific information on what causes low life expectancy in any specific area, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said higher life expectancies are often related to higher education and access to health care and healthy food. In future posts we will examine what may cause the lower life expectancies in the Detroit area.