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Want to live longer? Grow the economy

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Want to live longer? Grow the economy

A groundbreaking study released earlier this month showed income inequality leads to life expectancy inequality.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, as of 2014 there was a gap of 20.1 years between the counties with the shortest and longest typical life spans based on life expectancy at birth.

Researchers analyzed birth and death records from every U.S. county between 1980 and 2014.

Winnebago County was in the higher ranges of life expectancy throughout the time period studied. As of 2014, the life expectancy of someone born in Winnebago County was 77.95 years. The highest expectacy was 87.36 years and the lowest was 66.92.

What was fascinating though is the fact that Winnebago County’s life expectancy has followed its economic fortunes. As manufacturing in the U.S. was squeezed by globalization, incomes here have not kept pace.

  • In 1979, the per capita personal income of someone in the Rockford area was $9,643 compared with $9,616 of the typical person in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • In 1980, the U.S. per capital personal income passed Winnebago County, $10,633 to $10,287.
  • As late as 1995, Winnebago County residents were still making about 95 percent of what a typical U.S. person was earning. The Winnebago County per capita income was $23,467 in 1995 compared with $24,604.
  • As of 2013 though, people in Winnebago County were earning 81 percent of what the U.S. makes. The per capita personal income of someone in Winnebago County was $37,505 compared with the U.S. per capita personal income of $46,177.

Health care, as everyone knows, is an expensive business. As our incomes have slipped so has our life expectancy when compared with the rest of the country.

  • In 1980, the life expectancy of someone born in Winnebago County was 74.12 years. In the U.S. the life expectancy was 73.75 years.
  • Winnebago County had a higher life expectancy than the U.S. as a whole every year until 1998. That year, the U.S. life expectancy reached 76.84 years while the Winnebago County life expectancy was at 76.71.
  • The gap has only continued to grow. In 2014, the life expectancy of someone born in Winnebago County was 77.95 years. In the U.S., it is up to 79.08 years.

So there’s yet another reason we need to Transform Rockford’s economy so that it surpasses the growth rate of the U.S. It will help us live longer.

Click here to see an interactive map so you can check out the data for yourself.


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