Life expectancy by Chicago L stops — the stark data

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CTA L stop | File photo

It’s probably not a great surprise that someone living in the Loop can typically expect a longer life than people living in large swaths of the South Side.

What may be surprising is just how wide the gap is.

To vividly illustrate that fact — and raise public awareness — researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health have released a Chicago L station map titled “Short Distances to Large Gaps in Health.”


In the most extreme example, someone living in the Loop would be expected to live to the age of 85, compared to someone living in the vicinity of the Green Line’s Garfield stop, where the life expectancy is 69 years.

The project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is looking at life expectancy differences in 20 cities, big and small.

“We wanted to demonstrate that these [differences] aren’t unique to big cities or small towns,” said Derek Chapman, associate director of research for the center.

The city’s Department of Public Health calculated the life expectancy data using 2009 and 2010 death certificate data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Researchers also released data this week for Atlanta, New York and Richmond, Va., with plans in the coming months to release similar information for 15 more cities. The project didn’t examine the possible causes of life expectancy differences, but researchers hope to provoke conversations about the subject, Chapman said.

“Our goal is to help local officials, residents and others understand that there’s more to health than merely health care and that improving health requires having a broad range of players at the table,” Chapman said.

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