The Community Explorer: Informing Policy with County-Level Data

Community

The Community Explorer investigates US health disparities by first understanding populations’ specificities then looking at their health profile. It identifies the different populations or communities based on their behavioral, demographic, economic, and social profiles. Then it links these profiles to chronic disease prevalence rates.

The eight community profiles were identified by using Explanatory Factor Analysis and machine learning techniques, to sort 26 behavioral, demographic, economic, and social factors across 3,192 US counties.

The map below shows the location of these 8 community profiles:

  1. Community Profile One represents 38 percent of the US population and is the most ethnically diverse community with the highest income level. It is a highly educated cohort that resides in large metro areas.
  2. Community Profile Two represents 25 percent of the US population and consists of highly educated, economically prosperous, mostly White counties in metro areas.
  3. Community Profile Three represents 12 percent of the US population and has the largest Black population, whose income is the lowest income of all the profiles. These counties are primarily concentrated in the Southeast.
  4. Community Profile Four represents 7 percent of the US population and has the largest White population. This population reports the lowest income of all the profiles. It encompasses mostly rural counties in the East North Central and Northeast regions.
  5. Community Profile Five represents 6 percent of the US population and consists of predominantly White counties whose economies depend mostly on manufacturing and are located around the Midwest region.
  6. Community Profile Six represents 5 percent of the US population. It captures the youngest cohort of the profiles, with the largest Hispanic population and the lowest education level, access to healthy food, and health insurance. The counties are concentrated in the West and South Central regions.
  7. Community Profile Seven represents 4 percent of the US population. Its cohort is the oldest of the profiles and consists of mostly White, elderly retirement communities.
  8. Community Profile Eight represents 3 percent of the US population and is the most rural cohort, consisting of an older White population with the most limited access to healthy food. The counties are mostly in the north part of the West, Midwest, and Northeast regions.

 

Source: Authors’ calculations using the BRFSS, CDC’s Diabetes Surveillance System, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings, United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Agriculture (2021)

For additional data and information, please visit the MI Research github page.

Updated/Published February 24, 2021