Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity in the Public Health Workforce

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice




The US population has become increasingly diverse; during 1965-2015, the proportion of non-Hispanic whites decreased from 84% to 62%, concurrent with a population increase among Hispanics and Asians. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2017, 50% of children younger than 5 years belonged to racial or ethnic minority groups; by 2044, minority groups—that is, African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indians, and Alaskan natives, and individuals who are 2 or more races—are estimated to constitute 50% of the US population.1 Although health indicators, including life expectancy and infant mortality, have improved for most Americans, disparities in health and health care exist, with minority groups being at disproportionate risk of experiencing worse health outcomes from preventable and treatable conditions.2 A diverse public health workforce is better equipped to address public health disparities than a nondiverse workforce and therefore to implement population-based approaches aimed to improve health in communities.3 However, the public health workforce is not representative of the population it serves. Overall, only 42% of the governmental public health workforce is people of color.1,4


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