Friday, February 25, 2011

Varying life expectancies among Seoul residents reveal economic disparities

South Koreans living in the more affluent central southern part of Seoul tend to live longer than those in the north, a study said Thursday, a reflection of widening disparities in the quality of life among the residents of the 10-million-strong capital.

According to the study conducted by Cho Young-tae, a public health professor at Seoul National University, an average person living in one of the three most well-to-do districts in Seoul is expected to die at an age above 80 while none of those living in the remaining 22 districts would make it past the mark.

The life expectancy in Seocho district, the most affluent in southern Seoul, was 83.1, while that of Gangbuk district - located in the northeastern part of the city - was 77.8, the study showed.

The study pointed out that people with higher income and social statuses can better afford to live in environments favorable for their health, attributing its findings to socioeconomic factors.

Seoul expanded southward across its landmark Han river as the country's economy grew rapidly in the decades following the 1950-53 Korean War. Riding on the back of heavy investment and modern city development, the central southern part of the capital is considered posher than the northern half, drawing a population with greater buying power and even sparking debate over distribution of wealth. ◦

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