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‘The Price We Pay’: How Can Your ZIP Code Determine Your Life Expectancy?

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Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021

Did you know that where you live can shed light on life expectancy? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified life expectancies for many neighborhoods across Mecklenburg County.

There's a 12-year difference in the life expectancy of people who live in the ZIP codes that house the Grier Heights Community Center and the Mint Museum's Randolph Road location, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Diseases and conditions like asthma, diabetes and cancer also have higher rates in areas like Grier Heights.

The short distance between the two neighborhoods draws a bigger picture of the equitable division in the country. Social drivers and determinates of health like household income, access to healthy foods, health care, transportation and experiencing trauma can significantly impact a person's quality of life.

In a continued conversation from WFAE's series The Price We Pay, "Charlotte Talks" takes a deeper look with leading experts by asking them why our ZIP codes could determine how long we can live.


Donald M. Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Kulleni Gebreyes, U.S. Consulting health care sector leader and director of The Deloitte Health Equity Institute

Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, state health director and the chief medical officer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

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Dante Miller is a community engagement producer for WFAE and a Report for America (RFA) Corps members. Dante first joined WFAE in 2020 through RFA to work as part of a unique partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Digital Public Library of America. Her work in that project allowed her to use radio, online stories, Wikipedia entries and events to meet the community's news and information needs.