In 2011, 15,556 Brooklynites died, mostly from heart disease and cancer, though the causes were manifold: HIV, flu, liver disease, diabetes, suicide, homicide, and many more. The death rate is 6.1 per 1,000 people—an improvement on the national average, which is closer to 8, and the third lowest in the city; Manhattan's is 5.9, and Queens' is a low 5.4. But not every neighborhood fares so well: some, in fact, far surpass the national average.
By far, the Coney Island area has the highest death rate in the borough—and the city. With 1,225 deaths and more than 105,000 residents, the death rate is a whopping 11.7. It's the only part of the borough in which there were more deaths than births. This is most likely because the population here is old: more than 20 percent of residents in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Gravesend are 65 and older. In contrast, less than nine percent of Sunset Park residents are. When adjusted for age, Coney Island's death rate sinks to 6.9. Similarly, Sheepshead Bay has a high death rate (8.1) that drops (to 5.7) when adjusted for age. Close to 18 percent of that area's residents are 65 and older.
Sunset has the lowest death rate in Brooklyn, and the third lowest in the city; only Battery Park/Tribeca and Elmhurst/Corona have lower rates. With 484 deaths and a population of almost 129,000, the rate is a low 3.8. The neighborhood has particularly low incidences of diabetes, murder, and HIV; its rates of heart disease and cancer are also significantly lower than in many other neighborhoods. When adjusted for age, Sunset Park's death rate rises to 5.2—also the borough's lowest after adjustment.
Williamsburg/Greenpoint and Bushwick
The neighborhoods have the lowest death rates in the city after Sunset Park: Williamsburg/Greenpoint's is a mere 4.5, Bushwick's is 4.6. Again, this probably has to do with age: less than 10 percent of the former's population is over 65; Bushwick's is even lower, at 6.4 percent. Hipsters are too young to die in significant numbers. But the neighborhood's death rates rise when adjusted for age: Williamsburg/Greenpoint's to 6.0, Bushwick's to a whopping 6.8, putting the neighborhood in the top third.
Bed-Stuy and Brownsville
When adjusted for age, the highest death rates in Brooklyn come from these two neighborhoods: 8.3 in Bed-Stuy, 8.7 in Brownsville, which is the highest in the city. The two neighborhoods have the highest number of murders, 27 and 26 respectively, but those numbers are negligible in the overall death rate. (In Bed-Stuy, murder accounts for 2.6 percent of all deaths. In Brownsville, it's 4.2 percent.) Perhaps the unifying factor is poverty: Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, and Coney Island all contain some of the borough's poorest census tracts, where median income can be less than $15,000/year.
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