The latest data show that Cincinnati life expectancy has increased for Blacks and decreased for Whites, but Blacks are still not living as long.
By Marla Hurston Fuller
and Dr. Maryse Amin, PhD, MS,
Cincinnati Health Department
The Cincinnati Health Department has released a tool on life expectancy for the 48 City of Cincinnati neighborhood groupings. This information will help give an understanding to the health of our Cincinnati neighborhoods.
The findings show the life expectancy for the City of Cincinnati is 76.1 years. This is slightly lower than the previous analysis conducted between 2001 and 2009, with a life expectancy of 76.7 years. This is almost three years less than the national life expectancy.
The neighborhood with the greatest life expectancy is Mt. Adams showing residents of this neighborhood live to approximately 88 years, roughly 25 years longer than the Lower Price Hill/ Queensgate neighborhood grouping.
The neighborhood with the greatest increase in life expectancy was East End with an increase of three years, from 73 years to 76 years. While the neighborhood with the greatest decrease in life expectancy since the previous analysis was Madisonville, with an approximate 11-year decline in life expectancy from 83 years to 72 years.
Furthermore, females are living the longest, 81 years, with a 22-year difference between females in Mt. Adams living 88 years and females in the Sedamsville/Riverside neighborhoods living 66 years. For males, they are living 75 years, with a 23-year difference between males living in the Mt. Lookout/ Columbia Tusculum neighborhoods living 84 years and males in the Lower Price Hill.
When comparing Blacks and Caucasian races, Caucasians are living approximately three years longer than Blacks, 75 years and 72 years, respectively.
Life expectancy is defined as the estimated average number of years a person may expect to live, if mortality rates stay the same over time, and is an indicator of the health of a population. Looking at life expectancy at the neighborhood level allows researchers and community members to focus on demographic, environmental and social factors that may influence health inequalities. It should be noted that life expectancy may be influenced by a person’s condition, race, sex, age and other demographic factors.
The national life expectancy in the U.S. has increased since 1980, but improvement depends on where you live. “These gaps can mean people in one neighborhood live 20 to 30 years longer than those just a couple blocks away — and the inequalities are prevalent in neighborhoods with high levels of racial and ethnic segregation,” stated Dr. Melba R. Moore, Cincinnati health commissioner.
Risk factors like obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and smoking explain a large portion of the variation in lifespans, but so do socioeconomic factors like race, education and income.
“The inequality in health in the United States – a country that spends more on health care than any other – is unacceptable. Every American, regardless of where they live or their background deserves to live a long and healthy life. If we allow trends to continue as they are, the gap will only widen between neighborhoods,” Moore said.
These findings validate an urgent imperative, that policy changes at all levels are desperately needed to reduce inequality in the health of Americans. Moore emphasized that federal, state and local health departments need to invest in programs that work and engage their communities in disease prevention and health promotion. “We need to take a deeper dive into the conditions that influence health to better target action in order to close any and all gaps and ultimately to improve the health of our community at large.”
Looking at life expectancy on a national level masks the massive differences that exist at the local level, especially in a country as diverse as the United States, Moore said. Although we’ve made massive gains in life expectancy over the past several decades, this is not the first time that life expectancy has stalled. We’ve made substantial gains, but there is no single phenomenon that can explain the recent decrease.
“There are a lot of moving parts, and the fact that it’s so expansive and involves so many factors and causes of death, means we need to examine root causes and possible contributing trends to the change,” said Dr. Maryse Amin, supervising epidemiologist, Cincinnati Health Department. “We want to utilize this data to guide the health of the community and lead to a call to action.”
The CHD focuses on disease prevention to not only improve health outcomes in the entire nation, but also to reduce the enormous disparities in life expectancy that we see in Cincinnati neighborhoods. The issues are so broad that it makes community engagement and individual accountability a necessity for success to be achievable, health officials said.
“Working with our partners we can help make improvements for the community that will positively impact all of us. Our ongoing efforts with the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), is the city’s first effort as we’re prioritizing the needs of the community. This plan is a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems based on the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process,” Amin said.
The Cincinnati Health Department is proud to display this data on an interactive dashboard with view to the citywide life expectancy by neighborhood groupings and categorized by race and gender. Collaborating with the City of Cincinnati Office of Performance and Data Analytics, the dashboards can be found using the following link on our website: https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/community-health-data/neighborhood-life-expectancy-data/
The Cincinnati Health Department will be hosting four community meetings to release the life expectancy data and have a discussion with community members regarding the needs of the community. The dates and locations of the meetings are below.
Saturday, February 29, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Westwood Town Hall Recreation Center, 3017 Harrison Avenue, Cincinnati, 45211
Wednesday March 4, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., College Hill Recreation Center, 5545 Belmont Ave., Cincinnati, 45224
Monday, March 9, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Hirsch Recreation Center, 3630 Reading Road, Cincinnati, 45229
Thursday, March 12, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Avenue, Cincinnati, 45227
Initial data is available on the Health Department’s website at www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/ for all organizations and individuals interested in understanding or working with issues of health, illness and disparity in Cincinnati.