FORBES | Where we live determines how long we live. Read that again.
Health disparities, in large part, are determined by where we live. In Nashville—a city that prides itself on being a renowned healthcare hub—life expectancy increases 5 years by moving to the neighboring Williamson County. Similar patterns hold true in other cities all over the U.S.
For those of us in public health, this unfortunate reality is not surprising. Structural racism—the category of racism that stems from the very infrastructure of our communities—has long determined unjust resource allocation. Inequitable access to things like quality education, nutritional foods, and healthcare services can lead to poorer health outcomes.
Connecting the dots, it’s easy to see how ZIP code can be more predictive of health than genetic code.
Health disparities, especially those stemming from the location of our homes, were only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, ZIP code determined access to testing sites, personal protective equipment, and vaccine availability.