New Yorkers Live Longer Than Other Americans Because Of The Big Apple's Immigrant Population, Says New Study
While the average American's life expectancy is decreasing, life expectancy for New Yorkers is doing incredibly well, thank you for asking. Yesterday, a study in Population and Development Review by Samuel Preston, a leading U.S. demographer, and Irma Elo, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist, indicated that an increase in immigrants has led to higher life expectancy in the Big Apple.
The study's authors were bewildered by the results. But here's what might be happening, according to the New York Times:
Foreign-born New Yorkers had lower mortality rates for every one of the 16 causes of death the researchers measured, including AIDS and drug- and alcohol-related deaths. Homicide and lung cancer death rates are nearly 50 percent lower among the foreign-born, according to the study. Immigrants live significantly longer than native-born Americans, a pattern that demographers have puzzled over for decades.
Basically, thanks to New York's hefty immigrant population — about 37 percent of the Big Apple has emigrated to the city from outside of the States — the longer life expectancy of those foreign-born residents has lengthened the New York average for life expectancy.
So, let's give immigrants a round of applause for helping increase the life expectancy of the Big Apple. Let's show them the love that, ahem, not everyone has been showing them.
This is welcome news, considering that less than a year ago Fox News Latino claimed that the longer life expectancy for the city was due to "stop and frisk," an NYPD policy that actually discriminates against immigrant minorities. Fox News' headline read: "New York's Stop and Frisk Policy Increasing Life Expectancy In City, Officials Say."
Here's what the article actually said (bolded emphasis ours):
In a new analysis by the city's Health Department, the controversial policy was one of the numerous factors contributing to the increased life expectancy over the last decade.
One of the numerous factors. Not the leading factor. Not the cause. A factor.
That same article went on to quote Council member Peter Vallone Jr. Not a public health expert, but a political figure, who, like all politicians, presumably carries an agenda. Fox News Latino quoted him as saying, "This is a salient reminder of why we make the tough law-enforcement decisions...It’s actually increasing the life span of people of New York City."
While we can praise the influx of immigrants for apparently raising life expectancy in New York City, let's not turn a blind eye to the obstacles immigrants face and the need for immigration reform. Maybe if we want higher life expectancy in other cities, we should tell Congress to get its act together and pass laws to reduce the obstacles for immigrants that make up our vibrant cities.