Twin Cities life expectancy: Wealth matters [MAP]

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Wilder Research analysis
A map of life expectancy in the region. Lightest blue is longer life, darkest blue is shortest life.

Your zip code could be a measure of how long you're going to live.

Last week, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation released a report with good health news for Twin Cities residents with some zip codes, and shakier news for others. The good: Twin Cities-dwellers are living longer than they were in 2000 by 1.5 years, and longer than the national average. The bad: Residents of the Twin Cities' least-affluent areas can expect to live, on average, seven fewer years than their wealthier neighbors.

Average life expectancy in the Cities is 81 years, but that jumps to 84 years in the region's richest neighborhoods -- the "second- and third- ring suburban communities," per the report, "with average household incomes of $75,000 or more." In the poorest areas, it drops to 76 years, below the national average of 76.5. But there is some progress: This gap has narrowed since 2000, from 8 years then to 6.6 years now.

The 56-page report uses the most recently available U.S. Census data -- dating from either 2007 or 2010, depending on the category -- to look at the intersection of race, income and health in the region, and how those relationships have changed since the 2000 census. In addition to the life expectancy analysis, findings include, for instance, that American Indian and U.S.-born African-American residents have a mortality rate three to three-and-a-half times higher than the regional average.

The study ends on a note of optimistic caution, noting that while the decade since the 2000 census has eased certain health disparities, "worsening socioeconomic conditions threaten" those gains.

Related coverage:

-- New study: With our health care system, Minnesotans have no excuse to get sick or die

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