Walk a Mile to Live Two Extra Years

I discovered a statistical oddity playing around with a set of interactive maps about well-being in America. Click the map and you can get a handy readout on how well people are doing in the state or U.S. Congressional district of your choice.

I needed the maps for my radio story about wide gaps of well-being around the country. While the on-air story is about Virginia, I could not resist clicking on the spot where I grew up, the southern outskirts of a mill and college town of Waterville, Maine.

It turns out the dividing line between each of Maine's two Congressional districts (we are so small, we only get two) lies a short stroll down the road from my dad's house. According to the American Human Development Project's maps, people in my dad's district can expect to live to age 77.

Just down the road, in the adjacent Congressional District, you get two more years to live. Sounds like a pretty good trade: walk a couple of minutes in that part of Maine's rural splendor and add two years to your life.

A better bet for living longer is suggested in the full, published report that goes with the interactive maps. "Measure of America" suggests a practical way to erase gaps in longevity in America is to take on what are described as the "Fatal Four": smoking, crummy diet, lack of exercise and drinking too much.

Those will help with longevity. We also need work on income. In my dad's Congressional district, annual household income lags the nearby district by nearly $5000 a year. That must be connected to education. People have more schooling just across that line.

Listen to the full Marketplace story:



About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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This is interesting stuff but it has limited usefulness given the limits of how the data is organized. I searched my zip code- one of the poorest and least white in America and was given the data for my Congressional district- one of the richest and least non-white in America. I hope you are able to further refine your data so that it can be accessed by zip code.
peace and thanks,
Christopher J. Doucot

I graduated with David from Waterville High School.
I spent the past summer with my parents in Waterville in the house where was raised (I am a retired naval officer). I was impressed with the city's cleanliness and it's youth recreation facilities, some of the best in America.
Unfortunately I noticed a marked difference from the 1970s, many unemployed and uneducated young men and women in their 20s and lots of financially comfortable elderly retirees.
Geographic mobility is essential in the modern Service Economy, yet some still choose to remain steadfast and stubborn in both their ways and refusal to change - Waterville is not unique in America, it is an example of a city that is struggling to change.

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