PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has released its updated Health of the City report and has moved for the first time to an interactive, web-based format. The report finds that life expectancy increased slightly in 2021 to 74 years but remained lower than it had been before the pandemic. However, non-Hispanic Black men had the lowest life expectancy at only 65 years.

Philadelphia has also seen some important gains for health. Lead exposure among children under age 6 continues to decline and the steeper decline seen between 2021 and 2022 is an encouraging sign that the city’s lead law requiring lead free or lead safe certificates for rental units, fully in place as of 2022, may be having the desired impact. Air quality in Philadelphia continues to improve over time, as shown by a graphic of air quality from 1980 to 2022 that makes the significant impact of environmental legislation clear. And teen births, a major driver of school dropout rates, have dropped by more than half from 2011 to 2021, with the largest drops among Black and Latino teens.

Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said, “This report offers an opportunity for anyone interested in the health of Philadelphians to easily understand and interact with public health data. By using data visualizations and links to other departmental resources, our hope is to improve access to this information for community members, community-based organizations, and policy makers. This report makes health disparities and their links to poverty and other social determinants of health easy to see, but it also highlights the areas in which Philadelphia has been able to improve health by addressing environmental factors including air quality, lead exposure, and access to healthcare.”

As noted above, life expectancy increased slightly in 2021 to 74 years. Large differences in life expectancy by sex and race/ethnicity persisted. Non-Hispanic Black men continue to have the lowest life expectancy at only 65 years. Geographically, life expectancy was lowest in North and Southwest Philadelphia, areas where residents are predominantly non-Hispanic Black. Overdose deaths continue to rise in the city, driven by deaths from opioids and stimulants combined. And deaths from homicide continue to have a severe impact, particularly on Black and Latino men in the city.

The new online-only format will also allow the department to update data as it becomes available, rather than only once per year. The interactive format allows links to other data sources and reports as well as highlighting programs that address the health problems described in the report. It includes an explicit focus on the social determinants of health which underlie disparities in health across the city.

Dr. Megan Todd, Chief Epidemiologist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said of the new format, “It’s important to make sure these data are accessible and easy to understand for policy makers, researchers, and city residents. The data are often complex and we have made an effort to make it easy for everyone to understand key trends in population health. Looking at health outcomes in their social context is essential if we are going to make progress on decreasing health disparities and achieving health equity, a core goal of the department.”

The new online report can be accessed from the City’s website. This report will no longer be published annually and will instead be updated on a rolling basis as new data become available.