In Communities Where Civic Health Is Poor, Lives Are Shorter




Neglected civic infrastructure — schools, parks, community centers, libraries and other public spaces that help foster a sense of belonging — coupled with barriers to participation in civic life aren’t just manifestations of poor governance. According to the 2023 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), they have health consequences.

The rankings, published since 2010, were developed to provide insight and guidance for improving health equity. The new report focuses on relationships between the state of civic infrastructure, community engagement and well-being.

“There is a connection between our civic health and thriving people and places,” says Sheri Johnson, the director of UWHPI.

The pandemic made the chronic stress faced by those without access to broadband connections, safe public spaces or other civic resources more visible than ever. Public health researcher Arline Geronimus has been at the forefront of research demonstrating that the stresses of poverty and discrimination actually cause cellular-level damage, overloading the hormonal systems that help us survive dangerous situations.

Author(s): Carl Smith

Publication Date: 4 April 2023

Publication Site: Governing