Michele Alexander
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018
12:01 a.m. EDT

New Rankings Show Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties in Pennsylvania
New State Report Shows Differences in Health by Place and by Race

Princeton, N.J. and Madison, Wis. – Chester County ranks healthiest in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at

An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. The local-level data make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, and jobs. This year’s new Rankings State Reports show meaningful gaps in health persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity. Looking at differences by place and race offers a more complete picture of health. This year’s analyses show that lack of opportunity, such as education, jobs, and affordable housing, disproportionately affects people of color across the nation and within Pennsylvania.

The new Rankings State Reports call attention to key drivers of health such as children in poverty. Poverty limits opportunity and increases the chance of poor health. Children in poverty are less likely to have access to well-resourced and quality schools, and have fewer chances to be prepared for living wage jobs. The Pennsylvania State Report reveals that in Pennsylvania, 18 percent of children live in poverty, compared to the U.S. rate of 20 percent. Among racial and ethnic groups in Pennsylvania, rates of children in poverty range from 13 percent to 71 percent with American Indian/Alaskan Native children faring the worst and Asian/Pacific Islander children faring the best.

“As the state team lead agency analyzing the Rankings for Pennsylvania, we find that the information is an important way to understand the relationship between where we live and our health,” said Francine Axler, director, Public Health Management Corporation’s (PHMC) Community Health Data Base. “The combination of PHMC Health Database findings and the Rankings are helpful to see where certain counties need improvement so public health organizations, like PHMC, can target and address specific health issues on a local level.”

Our children will become more resilient, and grow into stronger, healthier adults with greater economic opportunities if we build communities with quality education, emotional and social support, access to quality health care, and safe, affordable, and stable housing.

“We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind ,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their CountyHealth Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy.”

According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Pennsylvania, starting with most healthy, are Chester County, followed by Centre County, Union County, Montgomery County, and Butler County. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Philadelphia County, Fayette County, Fulton County, Cambria County, and Greene County.

“The time is now to address long-standing challenges like child poverty,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, PhD, RN, director of County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. “This year’s Rankings are a call to action to see how these persistent health gaps play out locally, take an honest look at their root causes, and work together to give everyone a fair shot at a healthier life.”


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a
convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit