Social & economic factors include education, employment, income, family, social support, and community safety. These play the most significant role in health outcomes.

In this category, education and unemployment represent Louisville’s most strategic challenges.


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It’s well known that education leads to better jobs and higher income. It’s also linked to reduced risk of illness, increased vitality and longevity. The GLP traditionally reports the percentage of working-age adults with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher to measure progress in its Education Deep Driver.

In 2011, Louisville ranked 11th among peers on this measure, with 31% of its working-age adults with a four-year degree or higher.


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The unemployed experience more health problems and higher mortality than the employed population. This is attributed to loss of employer-sponsored health insurance and an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, diet, and exercise.

Louisville’s 2011 unemployment rate was 10%, ranking it 12th among peers.

The physical environment category includes the built environment, like buildings, roads, parks, restaurants, and grocery stores, as well as environmental factors like clean air and water.

In this category, air quality is Louisville’s most strategic challenge.


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The relationship between elevated air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter and ozone, and compromised health has been well documented. Negative consequences of ambient air pollution include decreased lung function, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Fine particulate matter can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.

Louisville ranks 8th among peers on daily fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5.

Health behaviors include smoking, diet and exercise, and alcohol use.

In this category, smoking and obesity represent Louisville’s most strategic challenges.


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Each year, obesity-related conditions cost more than $150 billion and cause an estimated 300,000 premature deaths in the U.S. The health effects associated with obesity include but are not limited to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

1 in 3 Louisville adults (34%) are obese, ranking 14th among peer cities.


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The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths or nearly one of every five deaths each year in the United States.

Today, 24%, or more than 1 in 5 Louisville adults smoke, ranking 14th among 15 peer cities.

The clinical care category includes access to care—the percentage of population without health insurance and access to dentists and physicians; and quality of care—the percentage of certain populations that receive health screenings or have preventable hospital stays.

In this category, access to primary care physicians represents Louisville’s most strategic challenge.

Access to Physicians

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Primary care physicians provide preventative care, regular office-visit access and referrals to appropriate specialists. An increase of just one primary care physician per 10,000 people reduces average mortality by more than 5%.

Louisville ranks in the middle—8th among peers—on access to primary care physicians, with one physician for every 1,103 residents.