It may not be surprising — in fact, it’s almost axiomatic — that people born into greater wealth tend to have greater health.
Still, findings from a new report showing that individuals reared and living in one Raytown ZIP code have an average life expectancy 8 years less than those in a nearby Lee’s Summit ZIP have taken even health officials somewhat aback.
“This is the first time we’ve taken a ZIP code approach to life expectancy,” said Ray Dlugolecki, the health promotions manager for the Jackson County Health Department. “It was surprising to see that babies being born literally a few miles apart have such dramatic differences in life expectancy.
“These are ZIP codes that are local. Some are literally right next to each other.”
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A summary of the department’s report, “Place Matters: Life Expectancy in Eastern Jackson County,” was released Friday. It looks at five ZIP codes within Lee’s Summit, two in Blue Springs, two in Raytown and one each in Lone Jack, Sugar Creek, Buckner, Oak Grove, Grain Valley, Greenwood and Grandview.
That difference in average life expectancy ranges from 81.1 years in Lee’s Summit’s 64086 ZIP code, where the median family income is $75,000 a year and the poverty rate is 5.3 percent, to 73.3 years in Raytown’s 64138 ZIP code. The median family income in that area is $45,000 and poverty hovers around 18 percent.
In general, higher-income ZIP codes tended to equate with longer life expectancy. In Lee’s Summit ZIP code 64082, with the highest median family income of $104,000, average life expectancy stood at 80.2 years.
Lower-income areas equated with lower life expectancy, along with more violent crime and lower educational attainment among residents.
One notable exception is Grandview, ZIP code 64030, where residents record an average life expectancy of 80.5 years, despite living in one of the lowest-income areas in eastern Jackson County. The median family income is $41,300 and the poverty rate is 18.3 percent.
The report speculates that the longer life expectancy may be due to Grandview’s high Hispanic population, which at 11 percent is close to double that of the other communities.
“One hypothesis for this paradox, “ the report said, “is that there is greater social cohesion in Hispanic communities resulting in social support … that have tremendous health benefits.”
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that average life expectancy stands at 78.8 years, with averages significantly higher for women (81.2 years) than for men (76.4 years) and higher for Hispanics (81.8 years) than for non-Hispanic white people (78.8 years) and black people (75.2 years).
Other averages: Missouri, 77.2 years; Jackson County, 76.4; eastern Jackson County, 78.3; Platte County, 80.2; Clay County, 78.7; and Cass County, 78.1. For both Kansas City and Independence, the average life expectancy is 76.3.
Kansas county health departments did not have updated numbers readily available Friday, but 2015 figures compiled by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evalution at the University of Washington show life expectancy in Kansas at 76.3 years for males and 80.9 years for females.
In Johnson County, males averaged 79.8 years and females 83.4 years. Miami County averaged 78 years for males and 80.8 years for females. In Wyandotte County, average life expectancy for males was 72.9 years, and 77.7 years for females.
“Life expectancy kind of hits at your core,” Dlugolecki said. “People are dying. That is a basic thing everyone can understand.”
Life expectancy by ZIP code in eastern Jackson County
64086 - Lee’s Summit - 81.1 years
64064 - Lee’s Summit - 81
64034 - Greenwood - 80.8
64030 - Grandview - 80.5
64081 - Lee’s Summit - 80.3
64082 - Lee’s Summit - 80.2
64070 - Lone Jack - 80.2
64029 - Grain Valley - 79.1
64063 - Lee’s Summit - 78.5
64075 - Oak Grove - 78.4
64015 - Blue Springs - 77.8
64014 - Blue Springs - 77.2
64133 - Raytown - 75.2
64016 - Buckner - 75.0
64054 - Sugar Creek - 74.5
64138 - Raytown - 73.3