Many factors identified in the four Action Areas contribute to how people view their overall health and well-being, including the fulfillment of basic needs like housing, education, employment, and income, as well as physical and emotional needs like health, safety, work-life balance, and life satisfaction. Meeting people's emotional needs, such as life satisfaction and work-life balance, is also associated with better health-related quality of life.
Analysis of data from the OECD Better Life Index showed that, on a scale of 1–10 (with 10 being the highest life satisfaction), U.S. adults aged 15 years and older report an average of 6.9 in 2016. Higher scores on life satisfaction—along with better balance in leisure-work time spent, higher life expectancy, and better reported health status—would indicate that people perceive their overall well-being to be better and are living longer (an indicator of better health).
Average Life Satisfaction Score, by country
% OF ADULTS (15+) REPORTING GOOD OR VERY GOOD HEALTH
% of Employees Working Very Long Hours
Incarceration negatively impacts the health of not only prisoners, but also their families and communities. Prisoners are in poorer health than the general U.S. population, and ex-prisoners returning to communities often bring a host of unmet health needs. Reducing incarceration has strong implications for improving equity, as minorities are disproportionately likely to be arrested, convicted, and face harsher sentences.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at the end of 2015, there were an estimated 1,526,792 prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities. This corresponds to a rate of 0.46% of the total U.S. population in prison, the largest prison population in the world. Among sentenced prisoners, 57% are black or Hispanic. The jail incarceration rate is 230 inmates per every 100,000 U.S. residents.
A reduction in the number of people incarcerated could lead to better health outcomes for individuals and communities across populations. A decrease in incarceration rates may also reflect overall improvements in community conditions, such as poverty reduction, access to health services, and fair educational opportunities.
Number of sentenced prisoners in U.S.
Number of jail inmates in U.S.