Income Inequality Map

This map depicts the level of income inequality in each U.S. county. Higher levels of inequality often lead to greater health disparities.

Cohen is examining data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual survey collected by the Centers for Disease Control to glean what specific aspects are contributing to disparities in health in urban and rural areas. “We tend to think people in rural areas are sicker, they tend to be obese, have poorer diets, have fewer preventative health behaviors, or get a physical exam,” Cohen is comparing aging populations in rural and urban areas, examining factors that influence life expectancy, and exploring the impact these factors have on caregivers’ lifestyle.

Cohen was left with questions about how aging can affect those who provide care to people 65 and older. To capture a fuller picture of a caregiver’s experience, Cohen explores a number of factors including caregiver intensity – the number of hours a week the individual provides care, and the caregiver level – what type of care they’re providing – and how this affects the caregiver’s quality of life. Cohen also studies factors of sex, race, and career disparities among caregivers. By examining data from the National Study of Caregiving, a nationally representative study unique in its depth and breadth of questions, Cohen has been able to piece together a more holistic understanding of how different individuals are impacted. Over the last 20 to 30 years, Cohen says, there has been a trend in the United States toward urbanization. Adults 65 and older tended to stay in rural areas, while younger people and resources have migrated into urban areas. This population shift has created challenges for an aging population remaining in rural areas because there are fewer services, poorer quality health care, fewer people to provide care, lower socioeconomic status and sometimes even geographic barriers.

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