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Study suggests city dwellers live longer

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, May 1, 2014, 6:00 PM -

A recent  U.S.-based study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that city dwellers tend to live longer than rural residents.

That's in spite of being exposed to more pollution, crime and higher living costs, on average.

The paper analyzed national mortality rates between 1969 and 2009 and discovered that "life expectancy was inversely related to levels of rurality," according to the study's authors.

"In 2005–2009, those in large metropolitan areas had a life expectancy of 79.1 years, compared with 76.9 years in small urban towns and 76.7 years in rural areas."

While longevity varies based on time period, gender and community, city dwellers appear to live longer as a whole.

"he rural–urban gap in life expectancy widened over time for both men and women," the paper goes on to say.


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"Compared to their metropolitan counterparts, men in non-metropolitan areas experienced a shorter life expectancy by 0.6 years in 1969–1971, 1.0 years in 1996–1998, and 2.1 years in 2005–2009. For women, the absolute difference in life expectancy between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas increased from –0.1 years in 1969–1971 to 0.6 years in 1996–1998 and 1.6 years in 2005–2009."

Researchers are attributing this to a few factors.

For staters, city dwellers tend to have better, and more varied, access to health care facilities, education and infrastructure.

There's also a large income gap between urban and rural residents.

In 1970, the median family income was $2,892 less in rural areas. By 2009, that gap had jumped to $16,842.

To add to that, obesity rates and incidents of smoking tend to be higher in rural areas.

In 2010, smoking prevalence was 16.9% in large metropolitan areas, 19.7% in small metropolitan areas and 26.9% in non-metropolitan areas, according to the paper.

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