Social Determinants of Health
Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. These conditions are known as Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).
This report presents an overview of the data related to social determinants in the United States. It explores data on cost-burdened housing, poverty, and food insecurity. Communities with inadequate housing, low household incomes, or lack of access to healthy food may be at risk of poor health outcomes. Applying research on social determinants can improve well-being for Americans.
Cost-Burdened Housing in the United States
Cost-burdened housing units are residences in whose occupants spend 30% of more of their household income on housing costs—rent, utilities, homeowner costs, taxes, and other costs related to housing. People who spend 30% or more of their income on housing may lack financial security. They may have difficulty saving enough funds to cope with unplanned expenses.
Poverty and Child Poverty in the United States
The American Community Survey (ACS) uses the federal poverty line threshold to determine poverty status for families and individuals. If a family's total income is less than the corresponding threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty.
Poverty is an extreme condition. The National Center for Children in Poverty reported that the level of income families typically require to make ends meet is nearly twice the federal poverty thresholds. While the poverty thresholds are adjusted each year based on inflation, they do not reflect regional differences in cost of living: the poverty thresholds are the same everywhere in the United States. The Census states: "Although the thresholds in some sense reflect a family’s needs, they are intended for use as a statistical yardstick, not as a complete description of what people and families need to live."
Food Insecurity in the United States
Food insecurity measures the percent of households lacking consistent access to adequate healthy food. Households with extreme food insecurity may face hunger. The map below, based on data from Feeding America: Map the Meal Gap, compares rates of food insecurity across states.
About the Data
• Cost-burdened housing data was calculated by LiveStories from the American Community Survey (ACS), table B25106. The calculation sums all housing units where housing costs comprise 30% or more of the occupants' household income, and also sums households with zero or negative income. This sum is then divided by the total number of occupied housing units and multiplied by 100. For owner-occupied housing units, the costs are monthly owner costs; for renter-occupied units, the costs are gross rent.
• Poverty and child poverty rate data is from ACS table S1701.
• Food insecurity data are estimates published by Feeding America. Citation: Gundersen, C., A. Dewey, M. Kato, A. Crumbaugh & M. Strayer. The most recent data is from: "Map the Meal Gap 2019: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2017." Feeding America, 2019. Details about their methodology can be found here.
This report uses the Census Bureau Data API but is not endorsed or certified by the Census Bureau.