Allen Smart of the Reynolds Charitable Trust wrote in his Aug. 6 Point of View “Short distances to large gaps in health in North Carolina” that, “Babies born in Martin County can expect to reach their 73rd birthday while those born in Wake County can expect to live 80 years.” He claims that “this has less to do with health care than education, jobs and other conditions in their neighborhoods.”
This is nonsense. It is obvious that family income, education and race all affect both health care and the neighborhood one lives in. They obviously all relate to longevity, but health care is the most plausible mechanism. Wake County is 21.4 percent black with an average income of $33,166; 48 percent of the residents are college graduates. Martin County is 43.2 percent black with an average income of $18,783, and only 11.9 percent are college graduates. A valid longevity comparison would contrast people of the same race, income level and educational level.
Elliot M. Cramer
Professor emeritus, Department of Psychology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill