Racial housing segregation is worst in the northeast and Great Lakes regions, according to a new report, and it’s making people sick. This year’s edition of County Health Rankings, an annual rating of the health of all the nation’s counties, added the segregation measure because it has “been linked to poor health outcomes, including greater infant and adult mortality, and a wide variety of reproductive, infectious, and chronic diseases,” the report authors write.
Black-White Racial Segregation, by County
Bridget Catlin, the co-director of the County Health Rankings, said segregation wreaks havoc on the body primarily by stressing it out. In addition to experiencing more violent crime, people in racially segregated pockets might be stranded further from good jobs or the transportation necessary to reach them.
The data might help explain why African Americans fare worse across various health metrics. The average life expectancy for African Americans is still four years shorter than for whites, for example.
“At the root of a lot of this is stress that comes from living conditions in a community that isn’t safe and housing isn’t adequate,” Catlin said. “Stress gets under your skin.”