EUGENE, Ore. - People who live northeast of the railroad tracks in the River Road area will statistically live 8 years longer than their neighbors to the southwest in the Bethel neighborhood, according to a new national report on life expectancy down to the census tract level.
The report was released Monday as part of the United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project.
The Oregon Health Authority said the report "shows the highest life expectancy at birth in Oregon is 89.1 years, in a section of northwest Portland that hugs the southern border of Forest Park. The lowest life expectancy in the state — 66.2 years — is in a part of central Medford running along the west side of Interstate 5."
In Eugene, neighborhoods on different ends of town varied by as many as 18 years.
"The report demonstrates that opportunities for people to be healthy are not shared equally among neighborhoods, even when they’re just a few miles apart in the same county," according to the Oregon Health Authority. "For example, life expectancy in a swath of southeast Eugene is 87.9 years, while it’s 70.2 years across town in a northwest section of the city."
Census tracts are "small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county" that contain between 1,200 and 8,000 people; the Census says the "optimum" size is 4,000.
Some Census tracts in Eugene and elsewhere in Oregon "could not be calculated for longevity because the tracts had too few residents, too few deaths or their populations didn’t represent the entire age spectrum," the Oregon Health Authority said.
"This report tells us we have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone in Oregon has a chance to achieve optimal health no matter where they live, work, play, learn and age," said Katrina Hedberg, M.D., M.P.H., state health officer and epidemiologist at the Public Health Division. "In Oregon, as in other parts of the country, that’s not happening."
USALEEP is a joint effort of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.