The Baltimore Sun’s October 16, 2008 headline read “20-YEAR LIFE GAP SEPARATE CITY'S POOREST, WEALTHY" and disclosed the life span difference between residents of Hollins Market and Roland Park in Baltimore. The article went on to say that “at the extreme, the difference in mortality rates between some neighborhoods is as wide as the disparity in life expectancy between the United States and a Third World nation such as Burma.”
The disparity is shameful, but of much greater concern are the solutions discussed: public health initiatives, homicide prevention, increasing public housing, lifestyle changes and social sensitivity, among others. These solutions are more like bandages on symptoms than cures to a fundamental illness. What is done to remedy a problem must be based on causes, not symptoms.
Tucked in the article itself is an insight into the cause of the life expectancy disparity: “life expectancy tends to rise with median income..For every increase of $10,000 in a neighborhood's median household income, residents lived 3.4 years longer.” Income disparities are the cause of life expectancy disparities. Since the cause of the disparity is economic, the elimination of life expectancy disparities is economic.
Real solutions therefore require increased capital, small business development, banking and financial infrastructure, recirculation of capital, and jobs. This approach would work in Burma, and Hollins Market as well.