Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gap in life expectancy between rural, urban residents is growing

Date:
January 23, 2014
Source:
Health Behavior News Service
Summary:
A new study finds that rural American residents have experienced smaller gains in life expectancy than their urban counterparts and the gap continues to grow.

Reducing health inequalities and increasing life expectancy in the United States have both been primary goals of the national health initiative, Healthy People 2020. Unfortunately, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, over a 40-year period, rural residents have experienced smaller gains in life expectancy than their urban counterparts and the gap continues to grow.

"We've had information about life expectancy by gender, racial or ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but to our knowledge, nobody has looked at how disparities in life expectancy have changed over time -- whether they're widening or narrowing," said the study's lead author Gopal K. Singh, Ph.D, of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). "In fact, disparities have been increasing over the past two decades as opposed to the last four."

Understanding the magnitude and causes of these disparities has implications for both public health planning and decision-making, Singh said, as rural residents "remain at a higher risk of mortality from major chronic conditions and injuries."

The study notes consistent overall increases in U.S. life expectancy during the past 40 years, from 70.8 years in 1970 to 78.7 years in 2010. In contrast, the study reveals the rural-urban gap widening from 0.4 years in 1969 to 1971 to 2.0 years in 2005 to 2009.

Accidents, cardiovascular disease, COPD and lung cancer accounted for 70 percent of the overall rural-urban gap in life expectancy and 54 percent of the life expectancy gap between the urban rich and rural poor in 2005 to 2009.

A number of factors likely explain the disparity, said SIngh. "When compared to urban areas, rural areas have higher rates of both smoking and lung cancer, along with obesity, yet reduced access to health care services. Additionally, rural residents have a lower median family income, higher poverty rate and fewer have college degrees.

17 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, compared with 83 percent in urban areas, Singh noted. "There's always a temptation to take public health resources away from rural areas and focus on where people actively live, which would reduce the national disease burden but cause even greater rural-urban disparities in health and life expectancy."

"In public health, we tend to focus on overall life expectancy and it does move forward a little bit each year," said Steven P. Wallace, Ph.D., associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and chair and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the university's Fielding School of Public Health. "We have spent a lot of time looking at health disparities over the last 20 years and yet rural and urban disparities haven't been front and center."

People who live in rural areas have a lot of the same challenges as inner city people, Wallace said. "These include safety, getting enough physical activity and even getting good nutrition -- in spite of all the food growing around many of them -- the more rural the location, the more difficult it often is. Additionally, young adults have migrated from rural farming areas, leaving people with the lowest incomes and the least opportunity -- both factors correlate strongly with life expectancy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Health Behavior News Service. The original article was written by Stephanie Stephens. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gopal K. Singh, Mohammad Siahpush. Widening Rural–Urban Disparities in Life Expectancy, U.S., 1969–2009. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; 46 (2): e19 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.10.017

Cite This Page:

Health Behavior News Service. "Gap in life expectancy between rural, urban residents is growing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123154752.htm>.
Health Behavior News Service. (2014, January 23). Gap in life expectancy between rural, urban residents is growing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123154752.htm
Health Behavior News Service. "Gap in life expectancy between rural, urban residents is growing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123154752.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins