State Health Reports

Find out more about health equity in your state

Introduction

Ranking the health of nearly every county in the nation (based on the model below), County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) illustrates what we know when it comes to what is keeping people healthy or making them sick and shows what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play. CHR&R brings actionable data, evidence, guidance and stories to communities to make it easier for people to be healthy in their neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.

Our country has achieved significant health improvements over the past century. We have benefited from progress in automobile safety, better workplace standards, good schools and medical clinics, and reductions in smoking and infectious diseases. But when you look closer, there are significant differences in health outcomes according to where we live, how much money we make, or how we are treated. The data show that not everyone has benefited in the same way from these health improvements. There are fewer opportunities and resources for better health among groups that have been historically marginalized including people of color, people living in poverty, people with physical or mental disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and women.

This report explores the size and nature of health differences by place and race/ethnicity in your state and how state and community leaders can take action to create environments where all residents have the opportunity to live their healthiest lives. Specifically, this report will help illuminate:

  1. What health equity is and why it matters
  2. Differences in health outcomes within your state by place and racial/ethnic groups
  3. Differences in health factors within your state by place and racial/ethnic groups
  4. What communities can do to create opportunity and health for all

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) collaborates with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) to bring this program to cities, counties, and states across the nation.

What Is Health Equity?

We live in a nation that prides itself on being a land of opportunity - a place where everyone has a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible regardless of where we live, how we are treated, or the circumstances we were born into; this is the prospect of health equity. However, this is not always our reality. More often the choices we make depend on the opportunities we have, such as a quality education, access to healthy foods, and living in safe, affordable housing in crime-free neighborhoods. These opportunities are not the same for everyone.

Health disparities emerge when some groups of people have more access to opportunities and resources over their lifetime and across generations. For example, when children live in families with higher incomes, they typically experience stable housing in safer neighborhoods, have access to better-resourced and higher quality schools, and are better prepared for living wage jobs leading to upward economic mobility and good health. When children live in families with lower incomes and do not have access to these same opportunities, they face challenges to gaining a foothold on the ladder to economic security that helps them thrive.

Differences in opportunity do not come about on their own or because of the actions of individuals alone. Often, they are the result of policies and practices at many levels that have created deep-rooted barriers to good health, such as unfair bank lending practices, school funding based on local property taxes, and policing and prison sentencing. The collective effect is that a fair and just opportunity to live a long and healthy life is not a reality for everyone. Now is the time to change how things are done.

Achieving health equity means reducing and ultimately eliminating unjust and avoidable differences in health and in the conditions and resources needed for optimal health by improving the health of marginalized groups, not by worsening the health of others. Our progress toward health equity will be measured by how health disparities change over time. This report provides data on differences in health and opportunities in your state that can help identify where action is needed to achieve greater equity and offers information on how to move from data to action.

Why Does It Matter?

Population projections indicate that our nation's youth are increasingly more racially and ethnically diverse. As these children grow they become vital contributors to our country's workforce and economic success.

Yet, child poverty rates remain high with nearly 1 in 8 living in poverty. And, in the majority of US counties, rates for Black or Hispanic children are even higher than rates for White children.

Investing in the health and well-being of ALL young people now and in years to come is vital to our nation's future success and prosperity.

Find out more about health and health equity in your state: