KHF recognizes individuals’ health and well-being are also influenced by where and how they live. And stronger communities also help improve the health of Kansans. However, Kansas data indicates that individuals and groups that traditionally experience poor health outcomes may be less likely to participate in the election process, contact their elected officials or attend public meetings. Active, engaged community members help to shape policies, express needs and expectations, determine how resources are allocated, and elect their representatives. KHF invests in programs that help to build stronger communities and to encourage more Kansans to be civically engaged, and provides the support for leadership, information and data. The result is improved health outcomes for residents and healthy, vibrant communities for all.
Health outcomes in communities have been found to be higher in areas where populations are active and engaged in civic issues. One measure of this is voter turnout. The map below shows the unofficial voter turnout data, by county, from the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial election. This data comes from the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office.
Based on past data, voter turnout should trend higher across all counties during the 2020 Presidential Election. However, voter turnout in state or local elections is more indicative of the actual civic participation in a given community.
Health outcomes in communities have been found to be higher in areas where populations make livable wages. Household income is one measure for the economic viability of a given population, and in the map below, household income is shown for each individual county. This data comes from the 2016 Kids Count report, produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Though the median household income in Kansas has been slowing rising in recent years, these gains in income have not kept pace with inflation or the rising costs of health insurance.
Economic factors play a key role in nearly every health outcome. Those living in poverty are more likely to be unemployed, which means they likely have no access to health insurance coverage. Those living in poverty are also at a much greater risk for obesity-related illnesses, and they use tobacco products at a much higher rate. In the map below, these county-by-county poverty rates come from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Poverty is a complex issue. According to the Federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, many factors can contribute to inequitable access to resources and opportunities, which may result in poverty. Marital status, education, social class, social status, income level, and geographic location (e.g., urban vs. rural) can influence a household’s risk of living in poverty. Addressing poverty remains a root issue in efforts to produce healthier communities.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.