The Death Gap: How Inequity Is Killing Chicagoans - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

The Death Gap: How Inequity Is Killing Chicagoans

The average life expectancy in Garfield Park is 16 years lower than in the Loop. At Metropolitan Planning Council’s (MPC) Urban Think & Drink on Thursday, May 18, Dr. David Ansell of Rush University highlighted his new book, The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, and talked about what is causing the disparity in life expectancy we see across the City’s poorest and wealthiest neighborhoods. 

Nearly 100 people attended the event, which was sponsored by Presence Health.

Life Expectancy (years) at Birth by Neighborhood                                                             David Ansell

Dr. Ansell gave an impassioned accounting of how systemic racial and economic discrimination, bolstered by urban planning decisions and policy, leads to early death for Chicago’s most vulnerable. For generations, some of neighborhoods have been denied access to housing, transportation, healthcare and education, while other neighborhoods have maintained or gained resources. Over time, all of this affects a community’s health: life expectancy increases in the wealthiest areas and remains stagnant elsewhere.

In addition to describing the problem, Dr. Ansell gave us solutions. To improve the situation of Chicago’s most vulnerable, we need to realize that areas of concentrated poverty cannot exist without areas of concentrated wealth. We need address racial and economic segregation, especially when it comes to public services and resources, with intentional policies. We need to increase our empathy, because it hurts all Chicagoans if part of our city is suffering.

Watch Now

MPC thanks Sponsor Presence Health and Beverage Sponsor Revolution Brewing for their generous support of this event.

Revolution Brewing logo


No comments

More posts by Chloe

All posts by Chloe »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »