Colorado life expectancy estimates available neighborhood-by-neighborhood

Mark Salley, Communications Director | 303-692-2013 |
Census tract-level data can help leaders, advocates, residents create healthier communities
DENVER — For the first time, public health officials, community leaders and others working to improve health in Colorado have access to census tract-level data to measure and compare differences in life expectancy neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
Census tracts cover geographic areas of about 4,000 people. Data available at this level can help more effectively target efforts to remove the barriers standing in the way of health and opportunity. It allows community leaders to examine factors that might be influencing differences in longevity, such as access to health care, safe and affordable housing, educational opportunities and access to affordable transportation.
Life expectancy among Colorado residents ranges from 67.3 years to 89.5 years, a difference of more than 22 years. Differences of 10 years or more exist among neighboring census tracts across the state, including those in the Denver Metro Area and Front Range region, the San Luis Valley, mountain communities, and across the Eastern Plains and Western Slope alike. People living just a few miles from each other have vastly different opportunities for a long life.
The United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project is a joint effort of state vital records offices, the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
These census tract life expectancy estimates, based on state death records for 2010-2015 and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, have been unavailable until now. Access to these estimates can help public health experts determine why life expectancies differ among people living just a few miles apart. It also can help community leaders more effectively target solutions.
To access life expectancy estimates by neighborhood, visit the Community Health Equity Mapping Project. There are maps describing variations in factors that affect health, such as poverty, education, disability, chronic disease and acute health events.
Life expectancy estimates are available for 1,075 of Colorado’s 1,249 census tracts. Some census tracts have a population that is too small, or too few deaths, to estimate life expectancy reliably. In these cases, the life expectancy estimate from a neighboring census tract may be useful as a substitute, especially if the two census tracts are similar in terms of characteristics such as age, race and ethnicity, education and income.
Local public health agencies and hospitals can incorporate these life expectancy estimates in community health assessments and strategic plans to identify areas most in need. Community development and financial institutions can use these data to help decide which neighborhoods most need their investment dollars to fund health clinics, schools and other projects. Community members can use the data to guide conversations about what is causing life expectancy disparities in their neighborhood and what changes may be needed to address those challenges, such as better public transportation, access to healthy food or job training opportunities.
Visit USALEEP for more information. This CDC web page provides access to life expectancy estimates for other parts of the county and a report on the methodology behind these estimates.
The National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems is the national nonprofit organization representing the state vital records and public health statistics offices in the United States.
The National Center for Health Statistics is the principal health statistics agency in the United States, compiling statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the health of all people.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked more than 40 years to improve health and health care.