From the Data Book

Vermonters are consistently ranked among the healthiest people in the United States. The state boasts low infant mortality, violent crime, and uninsured rates, and has strong environmental and community indicators compared to national standards, such as low child poverty rates and high air quality. But there are high levels of disparity across income, education level, and age that tell a different story about our state.

Higher income Vermonters are more than 3 times more likely to report being in good health, while low-income Vermonters are more than twice as likely to have a heart condition, depression, diabetes, or have two or more chronic health conditions. Higher levels of education are correlated with lower infant mortality and a reduced risk of pre-term birth and low-birthweight babies. Black mothers are 38 percent less likely to receive adequate prenatal care in Vermont, leading to a higher incidence of low-birthweight babies and pre-term births.

Most of the indicators we track in this section tell us about individual health outcomes. Many public health experts emphasize the importance of considering social determinants of health (SDOH), or non-medical factors that influence health, including knowledge, behaviors, and upstream environmental contexts such as social disadvantage and inequity.

Excellent research has shown strong links between neighborhood conditions, housing, and health. We know that high-poverty neighborhoods are linked to worse health outcomes for the kids who live in them. We know that evictions take a strong physical and emotional toll on parents and children, and that households with children are more likely to face eviction. We know that where foreclosure rates go up, visits to the emergency room do as well. We know that housing instability can lead to behavioral problems, educational delays, depression, low birth weights, and other health conditions in children, leading to advocates like pediatric physician Megan Sandel to declare that safe, stable, and affordable housing acts as a vaccine against these poor outcomes.