A group of sociology professors think that start-up rates could be linked to health and fitness of a community.
Experts agree that small businesses are good for the economy. But can they actually improve people's health? A group of sociology professors from Louisiana State University and Baylor University thinks there could be a connection. The professors say that places with high concentrations of microbusinesses—companies with fewer than five employees—have healthier residents. The researchers looked at more than 3,000 U.S. counties, using small-business numbers from the 2000 census. They then charted the health of residents in 2007, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's the connection? According to Carson Mencken, a sociology professor at Baylor who helped conduct the study, when businesses are locally owned, their owners are more invested in improving their communities by funding local hospitals, health education, and recreational facilities. Then again, an abundance of small businesses may indicate a booming local economy, and it's well established that increased wealth makes possible a healthier lifestyle. Here's how a range of counties performed, from the least to most healthy.