Well-being of People in Whatcom County, Washington
What does it mean for people to enjoy well-being? Well-Being of People is both how people feel about their lives and how long they are likely to live. Health, security, prosperity, sense of connection, and purpose all play a role in well-being.
PEOPLE'S PERCEPTION OF THEIR WELL-BEING
How many residents are thriving in Whatcom County, Washington? How many are struggling or suffering?
What this measures: Cantril's Ladder is an overall measure of how someone feels about their life using two simple questions. The first question asks people to rate their lives on a ladder where the bottom in their worst possible life (0) and the top is their best possible life (10). The second question asks them to rate where they think they will be on the ladder in five years. A score of 7 or higher now and 8 or higher in the future on Cantril's ladder puts someone in the "thriving" category, along with half of the US population. A score of 4 or below on both questions puts you in the "suffering" category. Everyone in between is categorized as "struggling."
Note: Data is not shown for counties with fewer than 20 survey responses.
Why this matters: How someone feels about their life using these questions turns out to be very powerful, relating to how healthy they will be, how long they will live, and their cost to society. It even seems to relate to how people voted in the last election. These two Cantril's ladder questions can be used to identify which populations one might need to focus on. It can also be used to monitor the health of a population over time. It can be used to evaluate improvement efforts. Change in this measure can be seen as soon as 3-6 months and is often used by employers and communities in this way.
What this relates to: Every other domain. These questions are used to compare the well-being of countries in the World Happiness Report. They are also recommended by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to assess population health.
Data source: Gallup. Percentages and mean responses calculated by LiveStories based on raw survey data. Only responses of 0 to 10 were included in the calculations.
How many years, on average, can residents expect to live in Whatcom County, Washington?
What this measures: The average number of years a person (or a group of people) can expect to live. This is calculated based on the experiences of a group of people who are similar. In this case, it looks at others who live in the same area.
Why this matters: Many factors can affect life expectancy, such as health and social and physical environment. Life expectancy can be used to monitor the overall health of a population. It can also help to identity groups who are at risk of dying earlier than the average population. Life expectancy does not change quickly and is less useful for measuring short-term improvement. We are now able to see differences in life expectancy at the level of neighborhoods through USALEEP and City Health Dashboard.
What this relates to: Nearly every domain.
• Census-tract-level life expectancy data is from the U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The USALEEP estimates cover the period of 2010 to 2015. The estimates were produced with data from death records geo-located to census tracts, population estimates from the Census Bureau, and statistical modeling to mitigate limitations from small population sizes. More details on the project's methodology are available here (pdf).
• County-, State-, and US-level life expectancy data is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Death records from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and population counts from the census bureau, NCHS, and the Human Mortality Database were used in the analysis. Results of the study were published in JAMA in May 2017 in "Inequalities in life expectancy among US counties, 1980–2014."
Other Interesting Measures
PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF THEIR WELLBEING
• Cantril’s ladder: percent of people with hope (percent of people with higher scores than current or scores 8 or higher in 5 years). Source: Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.
• Cantril’s ladder item for Financial Security. Source: Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index.
• In general, how would you rate your physical health? Source: Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS).
• In general, how would you rate your mental health, including your mood and your ability to think? Source: PROMIS.
• How often do you get the social and emotional support you need? Source: BRFSS.
• How strongly do you agree with this statement? “I lead a purposeful and meaningful life.” Source: Short Flourishing Scale.