J Epidemiol Community Health 60:1060-1064 doi:10.1136/jech.2006.047100
  • Research report

Neighbourhood mortality inequalities in New York City, 1989–1991 and 1999–2001

  1. Adam M Karpati,
  2. Mary T Bassett,
  3. Colin McCord
  1. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 A Karpati
 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Brooklyn District Public Health Office, 485 Throop Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11221, USA;akarpati{at}
  • Accepted 12 May 2006


Objectives: To examine whether inequalities in mortality across socioeconomically diverse neighbourhoods changed alongside the decline in mortality observed in New York City between 1990 and 2000.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of neighbourhood-level vital statistics.

Setting: New York City, 1989–1991 and 1999–2001.

Main results: In both poor and wealthy neighbourhoods, age-adjusted mortality for most causes declined between the time periods, although mortality from diabetes increased. Relative inequalities decreased slightly—largely in the under 65 years population—although all-cause rates in 1999–2001 were still 50% higher, and rates of years of potential life lost before age 65 years were 150% higher, in the poorest communities than in the wealthiest ones (relative index of inequality 1.7 and 3.3, respectively). The relative index of inequality for mortality from AIDS increased from 4.7 to 13.9. Over 50% of the excess mortality in the poorest neighbourhoods in 1999–2001 was due to cardiovascular disease, AIDS and cancer.

Conclusions: In New York City, despite substantial declines in absolute mortality and rate differences between poor and wealthy neighbourhoods, great relative socioeconomic inequalities in mortality persist.


  • i The comparability ratio indicates the correspondence between the ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding systems, based on double coding of a reference set of death certificates, and is calculated as,

    Ci =  Di, ICD-10/Di, ICD-9

    where Di is the cause-specific number of deaths.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethical approval: This study did not involve human subjects, and therefore did not require institutional review.

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