Chicagoans living longer than ever before, but racial gap remains

June 12, 2014

The average Chicago resident now lives to be nearly 78 years old, seven years longer than the local population lived just twenty years ago. A new report from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that life expectancy in Chicago grew twice as fast as the national average.

But an existing disparity between the life expectancy rate of white and black residents was stubbornly persistent. Black residents die younger than white residents by about seven years, a slightly narrower gap than in 1990. And the divide between black and white males didn’t budge at all.

Dr. Bechara Choucair is the health department’s commissioner. He said public policy helped increase the average Chicagoan’s life span; now, he hopes good policy will help to slim the racial gap.

Choucair pointed to a mammography program in Roseland, a largely black community. “We catch breast cancer early, we link them to care early, so they don’t have to die much younger than what they’re suppose to,” he said.

The greatest contributor to the discrepancy between black and white females was heart disease and cancer. For black males it was heart disease and homicide.

Hispanic residents live longest, at an average lifespan of just under 85 years. Foreign-born Hispanics live longer than native-born Hispanics by five-and-a-half years. 

LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 1990

LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 2010