Can I get your digits?

You give me your zip code and I’ll tell you how long you’re likely to live. Deal? A new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides the life expectancy average by US zip code here. While the US average is 78.8 years, the figures can change drastically, even across neighborhoods. “In Washington, D.C., for example, people living in the Barry Farms neighborhood face a life expectancy of 63.2 years. Yet, less than 10 miles away, a baby born in Friendship Heights and Friendship Village can expect to live 96.1 years, according to CDC data.” Whoa. A pretty cool article outlines how increased spending on local programs (public goods, police) can increase life expectancy. In fact, there are programs where you can apply for grant money to improve your community’s life expectancy metrics.

Unexpected life expectancy

For the 2nd straight year, life expectancy in the United States has declined. According to the National Center for Health Statistics data, the last time the US showed a multiyear decline in life expectancy was 1962-1963. And if 2017 completes the trend (remember from math class that it requires 3 data points to call it a trend), it will be the first time that’s happened since the Spanish flu did a number on the country over a hundred years ago—at least according to CNN. This writer wasn’t alive then. Much of the blame for the drop is being attributed to accidental overdose deaths—i.e., opioids. Accidental overdoses accounted for 63,600 deaths in 2016. Here’s wishing for a less-addicted new year.