DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Average life expectancy can vary by over 20 years depending in what Dayton neighborhood or zip code you live, according to data available from the City Health Dashboard.
The dashboard is an interactive tool that rates different metrics in the top 500 most populous U.S. cities. It was developed at New York University School of Medicine and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The data also showed large discrepancies in Dayton on metrics collected on child poverty, obesity and income inequality.
The tool came online in 2018 following the 2016 election, when regional inequality became a buzzword among journalists and academics describing why people in the country had so disparate outcomes and political views.
It compiles health data and organizes it into census tracts. The best neighborhood for average life expectancy is in Huber Heights with an average life of 83.7 years.
The worst was Old North Dayton, with an average of 61.1 years.
Zipcodes with no links to Dayton-area proper wasn’t ranked, leaving out most suburbs.
The dashboard’s website launched in 2018, but has been constantly updated with new metrics and data. According to Shoshanna Levine of the New York University School of Medicine, 80 percent of the measures have been updated in the year the site has been operating.
“We see it as a living resource,” Levine said.
Of the metrics available, the most stunning has been life expectancy within regional areas and how varied averages can be.
Time.com ran statistics on major cities and found numbers that were startling: Chicago had the largest disparity in the country with 30 years difference in life expectancy, while cities considered on top the economic heap like New York City and Washington D.C. saw disparities of 27 years between different neighborhods and zip codes.
Columbus, the largest city in Ohio and second-largest in the Midwest, was eighth in largest disparity with 24.7 years difference between its neighborhood with the highest average life expectancy, and its lowest. Columbus has experienced an economic boom for much of the decade.
“Looking at something like life expectancy, there are many things that can contribute,” Levine said. “Lack of medical care, lead contamination in the community, employment – every city and every community has a separate mixture of things that are the most prevalent.”
Levine said the purpose of the tool was to provide data for cities in order to help identify and address areas with issues.
“We don’t want to come into your community and pretend we know what’s best and we know what would improve life expectancy there,” Levine said. “The policymakers, the non-profits, they are the ones who can do that best in my experience. It’s a different side of the coin.”
Life expectancy measures were one of the first set of metrics the project looked at providing. Those putting the data together were stunned by the results.
“I don’t think anyone had the expectation what it would be,” said Ben Spoer, manager of metrics and analytics for City Health Dashboard. “But some places like Chicago, I think the loss of life, the way it impacted families, it shocked us.”
Dayton’s Most Positive Marks, better than top 500 average
– Dayton: 14.1 percent
– Top 500 Cities: 17.6 percent
Uninsured under 65 years old
– Dayton: 12.8 percent
– Top 500 Cities: 12.9 percent
– Dayton: 75.4 percent
– Top 500 Cities: 60.6 percent
Walkability (amenities accessible on foot)
– Dayton: 44.5 percent
– Top 500 Cities: 46.5 percent