The Relationship Between Self-rated Health and Local Government Spending on Parks and Recreation in the United States from 1997-2012
The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between local government spending on parks and recreation and self-rated health in the United States. Using four publicly available datasets from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Current Population Survey, the Decennial Census, the American Community Survey, and the State and Local Government Finance Survey for the years 1997–2012 (n = 303,203), we estimated a multinomial and a binary logit model predicting self-rated health with county area percentage of expenditures contributed to parks and recreation operations as the independent variable of interest. A one-percent increase in the portion of county area expenditures contributed to parks and recreation operations was associated with decreased relative risk of very good (RRR = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.93, 0.96), good (RRR = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.93, 0.97), or fair (RRR = 0.89; 95% CI = 0.87, 0.92) health relative to excellent health. The effect held in the binary logit model for adult men and women, but not youth. Higher levels of parks and recreation spending were associated with higher levels of self-rated health for adults across the United States from 1997 to 2012. Investing greater portions of local government budgets in parks and recreation operations may have the potential to improve self-rated health among residents.