FIGURE 2-1 Health inequities by race and ethnicity in Alameda County, California.
was longer by about 2½ years. By 1980, that difference had doubled to a life expectancy that was almost 5 years longer for whites than for blacks. By 2005, that life expectancy difference had increased to nearly 8 years (Figure 2-1).
These data can also be mapped geographically according to where the premature deaths cluster at the county level. Looking again at the data from Alameda County, the neighborhoods with the longest average life expectancies (census tracts depicted in green) also had high rates of high school graduation, low rates of unemployment, relatively low rates of poverty, and high rates of home ownership. In Alameda County, neighborhoods with long life expectancies are about 50 percent white and 50 percent nonwhite (Figure 2-2).
Figure 2-3 shows that the neighborhoods with a middle to long average life expectancy (census tracts depicted in yellow) have relatively high rates of high school graduation (81 percent) and low rates of unemployment, and about half the residents of this census tract are homeowners. This area is slightly less diverse, at nearly 60 percent nonwhite.
Figure 2-4 shows the neighborhoods in the county with the shortest average life expectancy (census tracts depicted in red). These neighborhoods also have relatively low rates of high school graduation and higher rates of unemployment, 25 percent of the residents live in poverty, and 90 percent of the residents are nonwhite. The West Oakland neighborhood pictured in Figure 2-4 reveals a heavily industrial area adjacent to a residential area.
By mapping census tract data showing poverty levels on top of these data, it is possible to conduct a simple bivariate analysis (looking at life expectancy on one axis and poverty on the other axis). This is what Iton calls “the true poverty tax.” This shows the true cost of being poor measured as the likelihood of premature death in Alameda County. Every level of income has a corresponding average life expectancy. In other words,