Series

Fleeing conflict and persecution around the world, refugees are a small but significant part of Wisconsin's population. While it's not the biggest destination for resettlement in the United States, the state is home to thousands of people who arrived as refugees from several dozen countries. A Hmong community took root across Wisconsin in the 1970s, and a small Somali community settled in rural Barron County in the 1990s, but large numbers of refugees from countries including Burma, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in the 21st century. People seeking refugee status in the U.S. — which is distinct from other kinds of immigration — have gone through an extensive vetting process, but a rise of xenophobia and new federal policies threaten to make their position more uncertain.More
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Rural life poses distinct obstacles when it comes to improving health outcomes. The reality of distance is paramount — getting to and from doctors' offices and hospitals requires more time, and when there is an emergency, that issue becomes acute. A related concern is the availability of healthcare providers across broader areas, particularly in places where population is decreasing. Moreover, rural populations are increasingly becoming proportionally older than the state as a whole, compounding difficulties related to mobility, specialized treatment and end-of-life care. Public health efforts in rural communities focus on preventive goals that are both universal and particular to specific groups of people or conditions. As the demographics, economy and environment of rural Wisconsin shifts, so do the health needs of its people.More
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WisContext collaborates with researchers at the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab to explain demographic patterns and change around the state. These reports explore how Wisconsin's population shifts over time, and how the places people live, work and go to school can influence the health, economy, education and politics of Wisconsin. Data about a variety of population measures are presented in maps, charts and interactive visualizations to illustrate these trends. Demographic change guides the outlook of both individual communities and the state as a whole, influencing the news as it unfolds day-by-day and history as it takes shape over decades.More
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Most Wisconsinites live in urban and suburban communities, but the state’s landscape is dominated by rural areas where farmland and forest predominate. But what makes a given place rural? What about small towns or exurbs or "up north" tourist destinations? And when is a place even considered small in the first place? Defining the continuum between rural and urban areas is complex and can be a contentious matter. It is also continuously in flux as people grow older, have children and move between places in pursuit of different opportunities. The demographics of rural Wisconsin are changing rapidly, with populations aging and overall numbers decreasing in many areas. These shifts have profound implications for the state as a whole, and will shape its economy, politics and culture.More
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Gooseneck pipes
Drinking water quality varies across in Wisconsin. In communities with public utilities, drinking water is subject to disparate levels of treatment depending on local needs and budget concerns. Nearly one million households get their water from private wells, which depend on property owners for monitoring and treatment. Across the state, many natural processes and human activities can introduce pathogens and chemical contaminants into water supplies. Wherever their drinking water comes from, Wisconsinites can use various resources to better understand and improve its quality.More
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