09 December 2016

Rural Living Is Less Healthy

One of the more notable bits of news in the wake of this election was that the largely urban part of America that voted for Hillary Clinton contributed twice as much to the economy as the largely rural part of America that voted for Donald Trump. In addition to being more economically productive, urban America is healthier than rural America. 

Interestingly, rather than being better off because they have lower taxes, taxes that are too low are one of many reasons that rural counties are less healthy, because they don't provide sufficient public services.
The 2016 County Health Rankings, released Wednesday, compare health disparities among nearly all the counties in the country on the basis of more than 30 factors, including education, housing, exercise and commuting time. The report shows dramatic differences between rural and urban counties on a number of measures, most notably premature death rates. 
Rural counties have higher rates of smoking, obesity, child poverty and teen births, as well as higher numbers of uninsured adults than their urban counterparts, according to the report, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Large urban counties have lower smoking and obesity rates, fewer injury deaths and more residents who attended some college. 
"What we think is going on here is that ... in rural areas, there is a smaller population, fewer businesses, fewer taxes -- and they're struggling to offer as many opportunities as urban," said lead researcher Bridget Catlin. "All of this has a significant impact on health." . . . 
"Urban residents definitely have better access to health care, but there's far more to good health than just that," said Catlin. "People have an impression of rural areas as healthy living and the great outdoors, but there aren't sidewalks. It can actually be more difficult to get out and exercise. Urban can offer more recreation facilities and more safe options." 
"Rural populations are also aging faster than urban areas," said Catlin. "Younger people who do go to college and leave home -- many of them don't return back home. What's left is an older population in the rural areas."
From CNN.

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