Premature Mortality and Socioeconomic Status

Finger Lakes Region, 2006-2015

There is a strong connection between socioeconomic inequity and health inequity. Poverty and less extreme versions of financial strain are experienced across the entire Finger Lakes region, but more concentrated in certain urban and rural areas as shown by the map on the left.  Those ZIP codes with the lowest socioeconomic status are generally the same areas that have the highest rates of premature mortality as measured by years of potential life lost and seen on the right-hand map.

While many of the ZIP codes with shorter life expectancies are in the core urban centers of Rochester and Elmira, others include smaller cities and towns such as Geneva and Mount Morris, and rural areas around towns like Sodus in Wayne County and Tyrone in Schuyler County. What these seemingly disparate areas share is high poverty rates of at least 20%. 

This data visualization is part of Overloaded: The Heavy Toll of Poverty on Our Region's Health Report.

Methodology note: The SES index ranking was developed by Common Ground Health and calculated using a variety of socioeconomic indicators from the American Community Survey including average income, poverty rates, education levels, housing value, and homeownership. Each ZIP code is assigned a socioeconomic (SES) index ranking from 1 to 5. The lower SES ZIP codes tend to have lower average income, higher poverty rates, lower prevalence of college degrees, etc.

Methodology note: Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a widely used measure to assess the rate of premature mortality. YPLL places a larger weight on the deaths of younger people, in contrast with overall mortality statistics which are dominated by deaths of the elderly. The YPLL rates in Common Ground Health analyses are derived using 75 years as the baseline. A death at age 65 has YPLL of 10, where as a death at age 35 has a YPLL of 40. The rates are calculated per 100,000 population and are age-sex adjusted to account for differences in population distribution.

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