Social Factors Tied to Longevity More Than Race, Geography

Social Factors Tied to Longevity More Than Race, Geography

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In a novel study of health disparities in the United States, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have identified 22 socioeconomic and environmental variables that together are better indicators of early death than are race or geography. The findings upend long-held beliefs that where you live and the color of your skin are the best markers for how long you may live. The innovative analysis shows that when factors related to local social conditions — including education, income and job — are controlled for, health differences based on being black or white, urban or rural, virtually disappear.

The study, published online in PLoS ONE, examined data about the probability of survival to age 70 for every county of sufficient size in the nation, classified by sex and race. It then considered how a number of other factors affect those premature mortality results.

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