Overview of Idaho
Idaho is a large western state with impressive mountain ranges, large areas of high desert and massive expanses of forested terrain. Geography and distance impact both the demographic characteristics and social determinants of health within Idaho.
Idaho is ranked 38th of the 50 United States for total population and 14th for geographic size. The 2020 census population for Idaho was 1,839,106 and, because of its large size and relatively small population, Idaho remains one of the most rural states in the nation. With approximately 22.3 people per square mile, Idaho ranks 44th of the 50 states in population density. Thirty-five of Idaho’s 44 counties are rural, with 16 of these considered remote, which means those counties have fewer than six people per square mile.
The 2020 census diversity index shows that racial and ethnic diversity has increased in Idaho over the past decade. In 2020 the diversity index from Idaho was 35.9 percent, up from 28.2 percent in 2010. A diversity index of 0 percent would mean that everyone in the population has the same racial and ethnic characteristics, while a value close to 100 percent indicates that everyone in the population has different racial and ethnic characteristics. The diversity index for the United States was 65 percent in 2021, up from 54.9 percent in 2010.
Zoom in and click on Idaho counties to learn about the diversity of people by county. Click on yellow dots for population counts by sex and age group.
Source: ESRI 2021 Demographics & US Census Bureau
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin comprised 13 percent of Idaho’s total 2020 population and could be of any racial group. Idaho is home to six federally recognized tribes: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation. Idaho also has two refugee centers located in southwest Idaho (Ada County) and south-central Idaho (Twin Falls County).
The conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work and play have a substantial impact on health outcomes and quality of life. Also known as the social determinants of health (SDOH), these conditions and the policies and systems that shape them, are the underlying, contributing factors of health inequities that result in differences in health outcomes for some populations. SDOH factors include income, education, housing, safe environment, access to healthy food, quality health care, social support, discrimination, and other factors that influence health choices, behaviors, and opportunities.
Social, economic, and environmental factors and their influence on health can vary greatly depending on where one lives, as each neighborhood has differing levels of access to affordable housing, good jobs, healthy food, education, and healthcare. In Idaho, mapping life expectancy by county shows a difference of as much as 10 years of life between the highest and lowest counties. In Benewah County life expectancy is 74.8 years compared to 85.2 years in Blaine County. Even greater disparities are seen at the census tract level.
Zoom in and click on Idaho counties for life expectancy at birth estimates. Data is not available for areas in gray.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics- Mortality Files (2018-2020)
PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICTS
To facilitate the availability of public health services in communities, the state aggregated neighboring counties into seven local public health districts. The boundaries that separate each of the seven areas include geographic barriers, transportation routes and population centers. Access to healthcare and other services continued to be barriers to improving health outcomes for Idaho residents; however, Idaho's seven local public health districts represent the primary outlets for public health services. Each district is governed by a local board and responds to local needs to provide services that may vary from district-to-district, ranging from community health nursing and home health nursing to environmental health, dental hygiene, maternal and child health, immunizations and nutrition. Many services that the districts provide are through contracts with the division.