While there is work underway in Westchester to improve the health of its residents, data shows that disparities in health outcomes persist. Health challenges are especially prevalent for minority groups that have faced historical discrimination based on their race and ethnicity.
Mortality rates are a measure of the overall health of a community, and is affected by a wide variety of factors, including economic status, and structural racism.
Westchester is Aging
As in most places, the population in Westchester County is aging. Residents 85 or older are by far the fastest growing group with an increase of 58% since 2000, followed by people 60 to 84 (increase of 34%). In fact, no other age groups in Westchester are growing significantly and younger populations are in decline.
Reaching retirement age can bring significant change to the day-to-day experiences of older adults. The end of working requires many older adults to subsist on social security and retirement benefits.
Although Westchester is widely known as an affluent county, 8% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2016-2020. The federal poverty threshold is calculated annually and varies by family composition and year; in 2020, the poverty threshold for a four-person family with two children was an annual income of $26,246. Living in poverty is detrimental to all individuals but can have long-term adverse effects on children’s physical health, brain development, and educational outcomes.
Westchester County is one of the most expensive places in the country to live. But the high cost of housing isn’t a burden that is shared equally. While countywide, 39% of households are housing cost burdened (spending 30% or more of their income on housing costs), that ranges widely throughout the county, as shown below.
Affordable housing is critical to economic security, and can increase people’s ability to access health care, education, transportation, and food. It’s the most common way for individuals and families to build wealth.