Rural Socioeconomic Risk and Resiliency Inventory and Associated Health Outcomes

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2008
Project completed:
March 2011
Social and economic variables are among the strongest predictors of health outcomes. Rural populations on average have lower income and education levels compared to urban populations. But despite these lower levels, rural populations have lower mortality rates for many common conditions compared to urban populations. Causes of lower mortality in rural areas partly reflect exposure to lower levels of air pollution and other environmental hazards including accidents and violence; however, it may be that strengths of rural environments such as community solidarity or social capital help to reduce levels of stress and psychological isolation and thus contribute to better health. The relative distribution of risks and strengths across rural areas and between rural and urban areas has not been clearly identified.

This study will create a vulnerability and resiliency index for every county in the nation and relate that index to population health outcome data. Data will be drawn from multiple sources including the US Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Area Resource File, US Census, Heath Care Utilization Project, the Geocode Disparities Project, and a database of social capital scores. The final products will include the national index scores made available on the Research Center website for use in follow-up studies, and papers and policy briefs written for academic audiences and decision makers.