Carver County is the eighth-healthiest county in the country, up from No. 11 last year in the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.
Among the 500 counties the magazine listed as the country’s healthiest, 43 are in Minnesota. Hennepin County was No. 414.
The magazine assigned counties numerical scores in 10 categories, such as general health statistics, education, economy, environment and public safety. Carver County scored better than average on a number of specific measures, with lower rates of obesity, violent crime and exposure to unsafe drinking water.
Life expectancy for Carver County residents is almost 83 years — four years more than the national median.
Carver County is also substantially wealthier than most counties, with a median income of almost $90,000. The national median is $56,000. Just 3 percent of Carver County residents lack health insurance, vs. 10 percent nationally.
Numerous studies have found a correlation between higher income and better health. Douglas County, Colo., just south of Denver, which the magazine named the country’s most healthy, has an even higher median income, at $106,000.
Randy Maluchnik, chairman of the Carver County Board, said Carver County offers good education and other programs that might enhance residents’ health, but economics are the most important factor.
“Let’s be honest, OK? We do a lot of things, but it has to do with the wealth and the education level of the people who live in Carver County,” he said.