Where You Live: Can Be Hazardous to Your Health. (on First Reading)

State Legislatures, February 2002 | Go to article overview

Where You Live: Can Be Hazardous to Your Health. (on First Reading)


Where you live may be hazardous to your health. The wide open spaces, pastureland and forests of rural America would seem to be the optimum environment for good health. But not so, says a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control.

For the first time in history, the annual statistical report on the nation's health looked at health status compared to a community's level of urbanization. The report shows Americans who live in the suburbs are significantly healthier than those living in the country or the inner city.

City and country people have higher working-age adult deaths than suburban residents, who are more likely to have healthy lifestyles and also have the lowest infant mortality rates.

Of course geography alone does not determine health status. Age, race, ethnicity, occupation and income, among other factors, all affect it. Suburbanites tend to be younger and richer than the people who live in the country or inner city. And occupations like farming are higher risk jobs, so it is no surprise to see that death rates from unintentional injuries are highest in rural areas.

Distance and lack of doctors also affect rural health care. And although more than 50 million Americans live in the country--20 percent of the U.S. population--less than 11 percent of the nation's physicians practice in these areas, making access to health care a serious problem. …

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