There is a new Raj Chetty paper out in JAMA ( with seven co-authors, including David Cutler), and it is garnering a lot of media attention. Here is to my mind the main result, although it is not being presented as such (NYT here):
The JAMA paper found that several measures of access to medical care had no clear relationship with longevity among the poor. But there were correlations with smoking, exercise and obesity.
I enjoyed the NYC angle from Margot Sanger-Katz:
New York is a city with some of the worst income inequality in the country. But when it comes to inequality of life spans, it’s one of the best.
Impoverished New Yorkers tend to live far longer than their counterparts in other American cities, according to detailed new research of Social Security and earnings records published Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. They still die sooner than their richer neighbors, but the city’s life-expectancy gap was smaller in 2014 than nearly everywhere else, and it has shrunk since 2001 even as gaps grew nationwide.
That trend may appear surprising. New York is one of the country’s most unequal and expensive cities, where the poor struggle to find affordable housing and the money and time to take care of themselves.
But the research found that New York was, in many ways, a model city for factors that seem to predict where poor people live longer. It is a wealthy, highly educated city with a high tax base. The local government spends a lot on social services for low-income residents. It has low rates of smoking and has many immigrants, who tend to be healthier than native-born Americans.
The poor live shorter lives in Las Vegas, Louisville and industrial Midwest towns, such as Gary, Ind. Geography also matters much more for the poor than the rich. The health behaviors of the wealthy are similar wherever they live. For the poor, their likelihood of risky behaviors such as smoking depends a great deal on geography, on whether they live in a place where smoking is common or where, as in San Francisco, cigarettes have been shunted out of view.
It’s almost as if health care policy should be local in orientation. The link to the paper includes three comments, including one by Angus Deaton.