By Lindsay Doty
Hendricks County ranks number two in the top five healthiest counties in the state, according to the 2019 annual county health rankings reports released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
According to the 2019 rankings, the five healthiest counties in Indiana (in order) are Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Warren County, Boone County and Hancock County.
The Indiana counties with the poorest health, starting with the least healthy, were Fayette County, Scott County, Grant County, Jennings County and Wayne County.
The study looks at affordable housing, smoking, access to exercise, teen births, sexually transmitted infections, crimes, high school graduation rates, commutes and more.
According to the report, Hendricks County has a 96 percent high school graduation rate. That’s compared to the state’s 84 percent.
Graduation rates were one of the strengths of Hendricks County, according to the research. Hendricks County also has a low number of children in poverty (six percent), a low unemployment rate and fewer injury deaths than the state average.
The reports in Indiana call attention to key drivers in health such as severe housing cost burden and its connection to other factors like children in poverty. Among Indiana’s children living in poverty, 49 percent were living in a household that spends more than half of its income on housing. High housing costs make it difficult for families to afford other essentials that contribute to good health, such as healthy food, medicine or transportation to work or school. Looking at differences by place and race offers a more complete picture of health. In Indiana, 12 percent of households spend more than half of their income on housing costs, but – when we look by race – even deeper differences emerge with households headed by black residents most burdened by severe housing costs at 24 percent compared to white resident households at 10 percent. County by county, severe housing cost burden ranges from four percent to 20 percent of households
“Our homes are inextricably tied to our health,” Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO, said. “It’s unacceptable that so many individuals and families face barriers to health because of what they have to spend on housing. This leaves them with fewer dollars to keep their families healthy.”
The state rankings can be found at countyhealthrankings.org.