Deprivation and life expectancy in London: things really aren't that bad

Owen Abroad links to a map of life expectancy and deprivation (poverty, basically) in London. The spatial correlation between poor areas and places with lower life expectancy at birth is supposed to be shocking – but based on my ocular analysis of the data, we’re looking at a gap of 5-9 years between the poorest and the richest areas. Also, and more important, the poor areas still have a life expectancy at birth of 78 or more (the article identifies a low outlier at 74). 78 happens to be the average life expectancy for all Americans. And while I don’t have a spatial map like this at hand for any US cities, I’m sure that the discrepancies would be even worse.

In California, black males have an overall life expectancy of 68.6, or 7 years shorter than white males. Given the strongly ethnically segregated neighborhoods in that state, and the fact that the 68.6 average includes some wealthier blacks who live in other neighborhoods, a map of Californian neighborhoods would have a drastically lower average than the above one of London and probably a higher variance as well. If you showed me the map above and told me it was San Francisco, I would have a party to celebrate all the progress we’ve made.

Also, even after digging into the deprivation index for a while, I’m unclear why the designers didn’t just use incomes. That might leave out other factors that are important in a broader concept of poverty, but it has the advantage of being actual data and not a constructed number that privileges the preferences of whoever made it up.

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