Equity in Marin County

Since the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began ranking US counties in 2011 based on health outcomes and determinants (e.g., health behaviors, access to clinical care, social and environmental factors, and the physical environment), Marin County has been ranked the healthiest county in California and one of the healthiest counties in the US. When these indicators are examined across racial and ethnic groups, not all residents in Marin County experience this high level of health and well-being.  

The majority of Marin County’s population is white (74%), while Hispanic/Latino residents make up the second largest ethnic group (17%).


Low education levels are linked with poor health, more stress and lower self-confidence.(1)

Educational attainment varies by race/ethnicity in Marin County. White students are more likely to meet grade-level standards than students of color. This disparity in educational achievement can have life-long ramifications on health and well-being for individuals and communities. (2)


 Higher income is linked to better health. Greater income inequality between the rich and poor translates to greater health inequity. (1)

Unemployment is associated with higher rates of self-reported poor health, long-term illnesses, and increased mortality. (3)

In Marin, Black residents have disproportionate unemployment rates compared to other racial groups.

Because of Marin County’s high cost of living, those at and below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) likely do not have enough funds to make ends meet.

Living Below 100% FPL in Marin County would be:

$25,750 for a family of 4

$16,910 for a family of 2


Despite making up less than 3% of the total population in Marin, arrests of Black adults make up 11% of all arrests due to felony offenses and 18% of all arrests due to misdemeanors.  Disproportionate arrest levels also exist for Hispanic/Latino adults in Marin County.


Obesity is linked to chronic health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, and is influenced by access to healthcare and nutritious, affordable food. (4)

 The proportion of 7th graders who are overweight or obese varies markedly by race/ethnicity.

Mental health is an important aspect of each individual's health and overall community well-being. 

33% of Hispanic/Latino 9th graders in Marin reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some usual activities. The prevalence of hopelessness for White, Black, and Asian 7th graders was 28%, 23%, and 18% respectively.


Safe, adequate housing is an important health determinant. (1)

Marin County residents who are Black or Latinx are significantly less likely to own homes than their White and Asian counterparts.

Home owners are more likely to live in stable, adequate homes than renters and home ownership has been linked to a number of physical and mental health benefits. (5)

It is estimated that around 1,034 Marin residents are experiencing homelessness. (6)
The life expectancy for homeless individuals is about 30 years shorter than their housed counterparts. (7)

In Marin, Black residents experiencing homelessness are disproportionately represented, given their share of the overall population.


1) World Health Organization "The Determinants of Health" https://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/

2) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality "Understanding the Relationship Between Education and Health" https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tools/population-health/zimmerman.html

3) Robert Wood Johnson Foundation " How Does Employment, or Unemployment, Affect Health?" https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2012/12/how-does-employment--or-unemployment--affect-health-.html

4) Center for Disease Control "Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences" https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html

5) Keeping Current Matters "The Impact of Homeownership on Family Health" https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2017/02/23/the-impact-of-homeownership-on-family-health/

6) Marin County Point-in-Time Count, Executive Summary, 2019: https://www.marinhhs.org/sites/default/files/files/servicepages/2019_07/executivesummary_marin2019.pdf

7) National Health Service "Homeless Die 30 Years Younger than Average" https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/homeless-die-30-years-younger-than-average/