Fast Company's Ben Schiller takes a look at this year's County Health Rankings, which consider less-visited factors that contribute to human health—such as employment, education, and racial segregation—in addition to things like air and food quality and access to physicians.
According to the 2016 rankings, there is a growing divergence between rural and urban areas. While the U.S. has generally seen increased life expectancy over the last few decades, rural areas—home to one in six Americans—are now experiencing a surge in premature death rates, which are deaths before the average life expectancy.
The latest rankings reveal other interesting trends. For example, health outcomes are generally worse in areas of high residential segregation. Where African Americans and whites are more integrated, they're health is better. Segregation—measured by the percentage of either blacks or whites in a county who would have to move census tracts to achieve racial balance—is greatest in the Northeast and the Great Lakes region.