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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Drexel: Inequalities in Life Expectancy are Aligned with Geography and Socioeconomic Status in Latin America

A wide gap in life expectancy within six large Latin American cities highlights social disparities amongst residents. This recent Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) project study stresses the importance of implementing policies that reduce social inequality in the region. Dr. Usama Bilal, assistant professor at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health and the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative was one of the co-authors of the study “Life expectancy inequalities within six large Latin American cities in the SALURBAL (Salud Urbana en América Latina) study: an ecological analysis”, published in The Lancet Planetary Health. The goal of this study was to examine variability and geographic patterns in life expectancy within six large Latin American cities and the association of life expectancy with differences in educational attainment.

The gap observed is strongly related to the socioeconomic context, which was measured through the educational attainment level observed in the different sectors within cities. For example, in the case of Santiago de Chile, residents who live in an area with a higher average level of education may have up to eight to twelve additional years of life. Dr. Bilal and coauthors also noted some striking geographic patterning within the cities. Those living in the center of Santiago de Chile live longer on average than those in the eastern parts of the city. “These results highlight the importance of developing urban policies designed to reduce social inequalities and improve environmental and social conditions in low-income neighborhoods in Latin American cities,” noted Dr. Ana Diez Roux, principal investigator of SALURBAL and co-author on the study.

Read the full study.

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