Location, as a matter of life and death

By Stephanye R. Clarke



Good news: If you’re financially well-off, odds are that you’ll live a long time – no matter where you live.

Good/bad news: Being considered “poor” could mean either a longer or shorter life span – depending on where you live.

Wait, that doesn’t make any sense! How can you be poor and live longer?

The answer –location matters.

By now it is likely you’ve heard about the correlation between where people live and their health outcomes. You can learn about how location shapes health outcomes from many sources, including Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and even a fun board game, the Life Course Game.

A recent New York Times article focused on the same general framework, with a new twist: sometimes, being poor (defined in the article) could translate to a higher life expectancy, depending on where you live. For the people who, based on this research, benefit from living in these areas, “the right mix of steps to improve habits and public health could help people live longer, regardless of how much money they make.”

An interactive tool is available in the article, demonstrating where the poor live longer in your state/county. Below is a map of Connecticut with corresponding life expectancies—with residents in all of eastern Connecticut (New London, Tolland and Windham counties) faring the worst, followed closely by New Haven and Hartford counties, respectively.

Eastern CT


While at first glance this picture appears bleak, there is an opportunity to create a better picture of health for Connecticut. That opportunity rests in the meeting rooms of everyone with decision-making power to analyze data, listen to community members and put forth policies and practices that will advance health equity and improve the health of Connecticut residents.

Related Readings:

America’s Health Rankings Report

Universal Health Care Foundation Blogs:

Something In the Water: #SDOH

In Sickness and In Health

Poverty, Housing & Population Health- OH MY!

World Health Organization:

Poverty and Health

My Connecticut “Who to Watch” List (not limited to the following):

Connecticut State Innovation Model (SIM)

Health Equity Solutions

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

Connecticut Health Foundation

Connecticut Health Policy Project

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