Calhoun, Jennifer. "Wealth adds on years: a study shows people in poor counties like Robeson don't live as long as those with more." Fayetteville Observer October 9, 2006.
This article was prompted by the release of a journal article with a statistical appendix that shows Robeson County’s average life expectancy, 71.5 years, is the 30th worst in the nation and the next to worst in North Carolina. This article’s author has gathered additional information to illustrate both the impact of this lower life expectancy and possible causes of it. She talked to a 70-year-old Robeson County native, Mary Roper, who herself has diabetes, lost her husband to brain cancer, and lost three of her five children to Lou Gehrig’s disease, pulmonary hypertension, and drowning. Another child has sickle cell anemia. Calhoun talked to Ann Stephens, spokesperson for Southeastern Regional Medical Center, who links the county’s low life expectancy to economics: the high unemployment and poverty rates, the fact that over a third of residents are eligible for Medicaid, and (a result of these factors) people being forced to wait until they are very sick to seek treatment. Diabetes is also discussed. From 1994-1998, Robeson County had the state’s highest rate of diabetes-related deaths. In 1999, the Diabetes Community Center of Robeson County was built; the county’s rate is now sixth in the state. The article concludes with a summary of statistics on Robeson County as well as the average life expectancy, and the rating within the state, for several other counties in the Cape Fear region. Additional information: The following is the reference for the medical journal article referred to in this article: "Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States." Murray CJL, Kulkarni SC, Michaud C, Tomijima N, Bulzacchelli MT, et al. PLoS Medicine Vol. 3, No. 9, e260 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030260 Published September 12, 2006. Full text availability for the article: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030260 The article includes a data set entitled "Life Expectancy at Birth by County." This data set, available as an Excel spreadsheet, shows the life expectancy for Robeson County on row 1980. The data set can be download from: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/archive/1549-1676/3/9/supinfo/10.1371_journal.pmed.0030260.sd001.xls