A new study finds that low-income residents in Queens live longer than people from disadvantaged backgrounds nationwide.
A study recently published by The Journal of the American Medical Association compiled tax records and Social Security Administration death records from 2001 through 2014 to measure the relationship between income and life expectancy through geography.
The study, along with a New York Times analysis, found that on average, 40-year-old Queens residents with a household income of less than $28,000 lived for 82.6 years. When broken down by gender, the average life expectancy for men was 80.2 and 85 for women. Since 2001, poor residents in the New York area gained about 2.5 years of life expectancy.
Other cities such as Gary, Indiana, and Las Vegas, Nevada, have some of the lowest life expectancy rates with 77.4 and 77.6 as the mean average.
Residents who make more than $100,000 per year in Queens are expected to live about three years longer than their poorer counterparts. The study shows that nationwide, location does not have a big impact on residents making more than $100,000.
Nationwide, the richest one percent of American men live 15 years longer than the poorest one percent and that number is 10 years when applied to women.
Some factors that may be driving the high numbers are the smoking habits of Queens residents (only 19.3 percent of Queens residents smoke compared to 26 percent of Americans); the number of immigrants (studies have found that immigrant children are healthier than American-born children, and 46.1 percent of foreign-born residents that make up Queens is much higher than the 11.7 national average); and the money that New York City pours into social services compared to other cities.
Queens has higher life expectancy than seven other surrounding counties including Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. The “World’s Borough” shares the same numbers with its neighbor, Brooklyn.
Researchers found that factors such as access to medical care, physical environmental factors or income inequality were not “significantly correlated” with life expectancy. The study does not definitively answer the causes of the longevity gap and how exactly it is changing over time.
Overall, the study found that differences in life expectancy across income groups decreased in some areas and increased in others and the differences were correlated with health behavior and local geographic characteristics.