Exploring the Correlations between Health and Community Socioeconomic Status in Chicago

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chicago_measurementMuch research demonstrates that where you live – and the socioeconomic conditions present in that place – determine individual-level health outcomes. The premise that individual stressors tend to aggregate themselves into communities with poor socioeconomic status (SES) leads to the conclusion that “where you live determines how long you live.” As former Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke stated, “Factors such as educational attainment, income, access to healthy food and the safety of a neighborhood tend to correlate with individual health outcomes in that neighborhood.” These factors are referred to as the social determinants of health.

Using community level data available through the City of Chicago Data Portal, as well as aggregated census tract level economic data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, this article explores community-level SES conditions and corresponding health outcomes in Chicago’s 77 communities to derive a localized perspective on a commonly accepted hypothesis that the socioeconomic conditions of places contribute to the health outcomes of residents.

Author: Susan Longworth, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago