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Blacks in Chicago Have Significantly Shorter Life Expectancy Than Whites

A new report from the Chicago Department of Public Health warns that Black Chicagoans appear to have a significantly shorter life expectancy than whites living within the city. 

Will Jones of WLS-TV, an ABC affiliate, reported on the CDPH’s new report, which indicates “Black lives are shorter in the city. On average in 2017, Blacks in the city lived 71.4 years, while non-Blacks lived 80.6 years.”

The trend, which comes from data compiled before the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased racial turmoil throughout the summer of 2020, has likely only gotten worse in recent years.

“Five Black women at the city’s health department worked on the report,” Jones reported. “They described it as a call to action to address the root causes of the health outcomes for Blacks in the city.”

“We want to acknowledge that racism plays a part in this,” said Yaa Simpson, an epidemiologist with the health department. “Racism isn’t a factor that we’re able to measure, so we are using proxies like life expectancy.”

According to Simpson, the decrease in Black life expectancy within the city has been impacted by a number of different factors, including chronic diseases, homicides, infant mortality, HIV, flu and other infections and opioid overdoses.

Among the findings of the study:

  • “The diabetes-related death rate among Black Chicagoans was about 70% higher than non-Blacks.”
  • “Black infants were almost three times as likely to die in their first year of life than non-Blacks.”
  • “Blacks accounted for nearly half of the people living with HIV in 2017.”
  • “Homicide rates are up to nine times higher for Blacks than whites.”

In an interview with WLS, Blair Aikens, an epidemiologist with the health department, said, “I think our goal with this report is to shine a light on a problem that we know exists here in the City of Chicago. We know that there are health disparities.”

 “We need to have better funding for the elements that help health improve for us,” Simpson added. “We definitely have to have people talking about this topic.”


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