In which scenario would you be more likely to die next year? (A) You move to the inner city of a large urban area such as Chicago. (B) You move to a suburb.
Explain your answer.
I’m going to guess the suburb, simply because of the danger of all the driving one does when things are far apart and there isn’t public transportation.
Is that a trick question?
After putting some (not a great deal) of thought into this, my chances of dying next year are greater in the suburb; most traffic accidents happen close to home; most of suburbia is made up of home owners, thereby increasing the chances of falling off a ladder while doing home maintenance, or any number of home chores that could put me at risk. I may also be susceptible to death from farm chemicals and other unhealthy yard/farm care products. Tornadoes and severe storms are also possible reasons for my early demise.
If I live in the inner city (and I will take this as a positive place), I would have access to public transportation, eliminating the need to drive, and I would need to walk to many of my shopping places e.g., groceries, entertainment, etc. I am also less likely to get lost and die in a snowstorm.
“get lost and die in a snowstorm”??? You don’t live in the middle of nowhere, Mom 🙂
In a really bad snowstorm and dangerous temps, “nowhere” could be just out of town! It could happen on any road or highway. Humph!
I’ve been thinking about this one and struggling, because they both have risks and it’s hard for me to evaluate which risks ultimately add up to be higher on one side. In my mind, I divide up accident fatalities and disease fatalities. For accident fatalities, my instinct is to say suburbs are more dangerous, because more people drive there, which causes a fairly high number of fatalities. However, people are frequently hit by cars walking to work here too, and we also have more violent crime, though I would guess the odds for these two combined are still lower than in the suburbs. For disease fatalities (the odds of which are still higher than accident fatalities, I think?), I’m pretty sure the leading causes of death are still heart disease, cancer, and respiratory infections. I’m not sure where the risks weigh out here — cities have more doctors per capita, people walk more and might be healthier as a result, but their work lifestyles may make them prone to high blood pressure, and pollution may make them more susceptible to repiratory infections (both of which are likely in rural areas too from farms, but that’s rural and not suburban). However, I would guess that suburbs also have an older average age per person, so the average person may be at a naturally heightened risk of disease, plus an age-netural risk of car accidents…
I’m going to guess that they’re both pretty close, but give the edge to suburbia for a higher chance of dying.
I see most readers of our blog are risk-averse. At least when it comes to sticking your head out when answering questions. On the other hand, most of you are willing to get into cars, so that suggests that you’re not all that risk-averse after all.
At any rate, yes, your chances of dying are significantly higher in the suburbs. Most people are afraid of the violent crime in inner cities, but, as a matter of fact, even in crime-ridden neighbourhoods your chance of dying from homicide are low compared to standard rates of traffic accident mortalities. Since people drive more in suburbs, the increase in traffic accident deaths overwhelms any difference there might be in homicide rates. For example, in inner-city Houston you have a 1.5 chance in 10,000 of dying from either homicide or an automobile accident. In the Houston suburb of Montgomery County, your chances of dying from that pair of causes lumped together goes up about 50%.
Heidi raises the interesting issue of health. Again, the odds are better in the city. Americans don’t die from lack of access to medical care (in fact, contrary to the usual assumptions in political discourse, there is a strong case to be made that fewer people would die if medical budgets in the U.S. were slashed by half — but that’s another story). What Americans do die from is lack of activity. By the thousands. And that extra walking that you would do in the city would actually make a significant difference to your health.
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