Residential Segregation

Racial residential segregation—or the geographic separation of racial/ethnic groups—often places people into neighborhoods with unequal economic and educational opportunities and access to services. Greater residential segregation is also related to poorer health and economic outcomes.

Data from the American Community Survey in 2015 showed that, on average, people across the United States tended to live in neighborhoods that were largely segregated by race/ethnicity. However, this was most true for non-Hispanic white Americans, who live in neighborhoods that are, on average, 76% non-Hispanic white. Black Americans live in neighborhoods that are 45% black, and Hispanics live in neighborhoods that are 45% Hispanic. More racially integrated neighborhoods encourage equitable access to educational and economic opportunities, as well as increased connection among diverse groups of people.





  • Diversity Experienced in Neighborhoods, by Race/Ethnicity

  • Neighborhood poverty, by race/ethnicity

Housing Affordability

Quality, affordable housing is essential to health. Income spent on housing can limit the ability to make healthy choices. Families that are overburdened with housing costs often have difficulty paying for other necessities, such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.

Spending 30% or more of one’s income on housing costs is considered a housing cost burden, while 50% or more is considered a severe housing cost burden. According to the American Community Survey, in 2015, nearly 13% of Americans spent 50% or more of their household income on housing. And there are significant differences by race/ethnicity: 10% of whites spend 50% or more on housing. However, all other minority groups spend comparatively more as a percentage of income, including 20% of blacks, 18% of Hispanics, and 14% of Asians. Reducing the severe housing cost burden, particularly among groups experiencing it more than others, is a priority for improving health and well-being.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey, 2015



  • Population Spending 50% or More of Income on Housing, by Race/Ethnicity

Enrollment in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education has lifelong benefits ranging from better health and higher earnings to a lower likelihood of being on public assistance or committing a crime.

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 46% of 3- and 4-year-olds in the U.S. were enrolled in preschool. Among Head Start programs, only 24% of states and the District of Columbia met all thresholds for quality (instructional, emotional, and organizational). A larger percentage of young children enrolled in preschool, and more states meeting quality metrics for Head Start and pre-K, would suggest an improvement in the availability and quality of early childhood education—a pillar of healthier, more equitable communities.


Sources: American Community Survey, 2015 and National Institute for Early Education Resarch, 2016



  • Percentage of 4-year olds Enrolled in Head Start Program, by State

  • Percentage of 3-year Olds Enrolled in Head Start Program

  • Head Start Quality Score, by State