Health

You could live 15 years longer depending on your neighborhood

Malibu on a September day.
Malibu on a September day.
Jake Staley

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Children born in Los Angeles County today can expect to live more than 82 years, which is longer than the average American. But that longevity isn't shared equally across the county. Your life expectancy can vary by up to 15 years — based on where you live.

The findings come from a report by the Social Science Research Council for Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health.

The report found countywide, the average life expectancy is 82.1 years for a baby born in 2014. The average American born that year will live 78.8 years.

Several longer-living communities, including Malibu and Beverly Hills, are clustered in the northwest section of the county. Communities with shorter life expectancies were mainly located in southeast and northeast portions of the county, including Compton and Signal Hill.

Screenshot from interactive map/Measure of America

(Click here to view an interactive version of the map above.)

Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, wrote that the health inequality described in the report is "both preventable and unjust."

"We hope [the report] will generate a greater sense of urgency for the multi-sector action needed to address the health inequities described in the report," Ferrer said. "In so doing, we must ensure that all county residents have the opportunities, resources, and protections in their communities and beyond that support optimal health and well-being."

While the researchers revealed stark discrepancies between life expectancy in different areas of the county, overall  the region stacks up impressively against other nations. If L.A. County were a country, its 82.1-year average lifespan would rank close to those of Israel and France.

The county's life expectancy has risen in recent years: In 2000, the average Angeleno could only expect to live 78.7 years.

expectancy over time
expectancy over time
Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council

The stark differences between different cities and neighborhoods around the county can be traced to the "social determinants of health," such as access to green spaces, affordable housing and health care, plentiful grocery stores and jobs with living wages.

combined graphics
combined graphics
Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council

The report noted that black babies in L.A. County are more than three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies.

Changing these statistics will require "a commitment to eliminating the persistent inequalities in health outcomes that start at the very beginning of life and continue across the life span," it said.

The report is a preview of a more comprehensive study, A Portrait of Los Angeles County, slated for release at the end of November. It will break down life expectancy for the county’s major racial and ethnic groups, U.S. and foreign-born residents, and women and men.

This story has been updated.