Within 5.5 miles between the upscale neighborhood Westover Hills and the much poorer Gilpin in Richmond, Virginia, there’s a 20-year difference in average life expectancy.
Richmond is far from unique, as these maps dramatizing life-expectancy differences across cities show. In Philadelphia, you can travel five miles from Society Hill to North Philadelphia and get 20 years taken off your life. Or what about Chicago? Just seven stops on the “L” train will produce a 16-year difference.
The subway maps are part of a series prepared by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). (See previous maps here). The last in the series is Washington, D.C., which actually shows a fairly modest age gap of just eight years between District and Arlington and Fairfax counties.
The maps emphasize that health is dependent not just on health care, but also on a range of factors such as education and job opportunities, access to housing, healthy food, physical activity, clean air, and other social services such as child care. RWJF promotes communities that have a “culture of health” that go beyond good clinics and hospitals.
“Some neighborhoods have more liquor stores than grocery stores, lack safe and affordable housing, or have poor quality schools. Many urban and rural areas have experienced generations of isolation from opportunity,” says Derek Chapman, at the VCU Center on Society and Health, in a press release.
See the full series of maps here.