Evidence concerning the link between park access, use, programming and health has continued to grow. However, government funding for parks and recreation is highly susceptible to the ebbs and flows of the national economy. Given this, the purpose of this study was to test the relationship between county area spending on parks and recreation operations and all-cause mortality in the United States from the years 1980–2010. Using data from 1980 to 2010 collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, we analyzed the relationship between per capita county area spending on parks and recreation and county-level all-cause age-standardized female, male, and overall mortality using county and year fixed effects as well as relevant time-variant controls. The study was conducted during 2017 and 2018. County area spending on parks and recreation was negatively associated with overall and female-specific mortality from 1980 to 2010. According to our models for female and overall all-cause age-standardized mortality, when holding all else equal, a hundred-dollar increase in 2010 dollars in per capita parks and recreation operational expenditures was associated with an average decrease in morality of 3.9 and 3.4 deaths per 100,000, respectively. Although not commonly viewed as a form of healthcare spending, increased government funding for parks and recreation services had a significant association with decreased county level mortality. Our results suggest higher levels of per capita spending on parks and recreation may lead to lower levels of mortality.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health