Socioeconomic Indicators that Matter for Population Health
Increasing research and policy attention is being given to how the socioeconomic environment influences health. This article discusses potential indicators or metrics regarding the socioeconomic environment that could play a role in an incentive-based system for population health.
Given the state of the research regarding the influence of socioeconomic contextual variables on health outcomes, the state of data and metrics for these variables at the local level, and the potential for program and policy intervention, the authors recommend a set of metrics related to the socioeconomic composition of a community (including poverty, unemployment, and public assistance rates); educational attainment and achievement; racial segregation; and social-capital indicators such as density of voluntary organizations and voter turnout. These indicators reflect the evidence that population health gains depend on improvements in many of the fundamental social determinants of health, including meaningful employment, income security, educational opportunities, and engaged, active communities.