Study: Where you live in Cook County helps determine how long you live

Access to healthcare, fresh food affects life expectancy

July 26, 2012

Jewell Washington

Where you live in Cook County may determine how long live, according to a new study from a national health policy institute.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies looked at U.S. Census data and found that county residents with annual median incomes above $53,000 live almost 14 years longer than people with median incomes below $25,000 per year.

People that live longer tend to reside in safer neighborhoods, have better access to fresh food, and obtain quality healthcare. Most of the census tracts with low educational attainment and low food access are located in the southern portion of Cook County with a high concentration of minority communities, the study found.

Bonnie Rateree directs the Harvey Community Center in the South Suburbs. She said the lower life expectancy in her neighborhood could be avoided if community leaders and Cook County officials take the report seriously.

“If they don’t care enough than this will just be another report,” she said. “We just don’t let little kids die when they don’t have to. We don’t let people die in their 40s and 50s when they can live to be 70. That’s just criminal.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she supports the study.