This report seeks to identify the forces that account for health disparities in the Houston region. It makes use of questions asked in the past 13 years of the annual “Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey” (KIHAS), buttressed by findings from the third of the institute’s three focused surveys, known as the SHEA studies (“Surveys of Health, Education, and the Arts”). The SHEA studies were supported by a grant from Houston Endowment Inc.
This report begins with an effort to identify empirically the most important structural forces (such as age, education, income, and ethnicity) that demonstrably underlie and help to account for the wide disparities in the health and well-being of Harris County residents. The report then explores the bases for individual differences in area residents’ access to quality health care and assesses the importance of the relationship between health insurance coverage and self-reported health status. Finally, the report explores the health effects of environmental pollution and of the social characteristics of neighborhoods.