I don’t have access to the original article, but Bill Gardner, a psychologist who studies the mental health service system for children, links today to a map of female mortality published this month in Health Affairs. It turns out that male mortality mostly improved or stayed the same from the mid-90s to the mid-aughts, but female mortality increased in 43 percent of all counties:
The counties are mapped below: red means that female mortality worsened. You can see a strong regional pattern: just about every county showed had worsened female mortality in several southern states, while no county showed such decline in New England. There are many questions about what explains this pattern. For example, did healthier women migrate out of the south from 1992 to 2006? Nevertheless, the map depicts a shocking pattern of female hardship, primarily in the southeast and midwest.
When I look at the graph, however, I am concerned not just about the women, but also about their children. The mental and physical health of mothers is a key determinant in children’s growth and development. What the map shows is that America has regions of communities with high concentrations of women experiencing substantial hardship. When women are not able to maintain their own health, how well can they nurture their children?
The map is below.