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What Can High Resolution Data Tell Us About Urban-Rural Mortality Disparities Among Coloradans?

October 4, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

YouTube Link: A recording of the talk given by Cyrus Hester on October 4th.

Zoom link – email for password.

Speaker: Cyrus Hester

Abstract: For much of the Twentieth Century, generations of Americans enjoyed longer and healthier lifespans than their predecessors. Tragically, this no longer appears to be the case for many rural Americans. Over the past three decades a “rural mortality penalty” has emerged, manifesting from a host of causes—from rising rates of respiratory diseases to drug overdoses, alcoholism, and traumatic injury. What remains unclear are the individual, social, or environmental factors driving this modern health crisis. This uncertainty may stem in part from researchers’ traditional reliance on county-level data. In addition to being relatively coarse in terms of resolution, county-scale analyses make implicit assumptions about the pattern-process relationships at play and by extension shape our capacity for inference.

Fortunately, access to a diagnostically-, demographically-, and spatially-rich dataset for Colorado offers us a rare opportunity to empirically examine the effects of scale and regionalization strategies on mortality research. In this talk, I will present the results of birth cohort analyses, as well as spatial association and regression models relying on various scales of observation, to demonstrate the extent to which our identification and interpretation of mortality disparities is subject to our characterization of space. We will discuss how scale influences our understanding of the contextual determinants of mortality, as well as our capacity to even detect places suffering from elevated rates.

Finally, I will summarize common trends and highlight the diversity of mortality patterns in the state with an emphasis on the places and time-period over which the rural mortality penalty has emerged.

Cyrus Hester

Bio: Cyrus Hester is a Postdoctoral Associate with the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His work at IBS focuses on the use of big data analytics and geostatistical modeling to study the long-term health and demographic trajectories of rural places. He earned his Ph.D. in Sustainability, with a concentration in Complex Adaptive Systems Science, from Arizona State University. His past research has included work on coupled rural-urban systems, social-environmental change, natural resource governance, water security, and biogeochemistry.



October 4, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


CU Population Center
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