Series

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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Since the turn of the century, Wisconsin's population has steadily grown more diverse, but there has also been growing understanding that the state has some of the worst racial disparities in the United States. Particularly stark indicators come in the form of health, education and housing struggles of racial minorities. These problems have deep roots in Wisconsin, from the establishment of Native American reservations to the treatment of the state's first Latin-American and African-American residents to the segregation of neighborhoods in Milwaukee. A growing body of research across disciplines ranging from public health to economics is revealing the far-reaching impacts of structural racism, and in the process outlines the challenges policymakers, educators and health care providers will need to address to make Wisconsin an equitable place for all people.More
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WisContext presents excerpts from books published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press to provide a deeper look at how the history of the state has influenced its contemporary landscape. These selections focus on events and experiences that illustrate historical changes in Wisconsin related to demographics, health, the economy and the environment — issues that have left an imprint on the state and continue to resonate in the 21st century.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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