Newly released: Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities calls for action on early childhood, healthy communities, and bridging health and health care. Read the report and explore the charts, infographics, and videos at

The Economy

The general economic environment can affect health by affecting levels of unemployment, wages and benefits, barriers to educational attainment, and availability of social and health services. Economic insecurity accompanies poverty; in addition, middle-class Americans are increasingly concerned about their economic security. Economic inequality has increased in the United States, and the middle class has lost ground. Both current Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and former Chairman Greenspan have called rising economic inequality a serious concern for the American economy. Many scholars have argued that economic inequality damages the health of all members of a society, even those at the very top. Others have argued that inequality in itself may not damage society’s health, as long as everyone has an adequate living standard – i.e., as long as poverty has been eliminated.


  • Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America

    This Commission report, Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America, describes the Commission's work and provides recommendations for moving forward to ensure all Americans have an opportunity to lead healthier lives.

    See the Report

  • Denver: Where You Live Matters

    In the Denver metropolitan area, life expectancy can vary by more than five years depending on where you live. Promising workplace programs in Colorado—designed to protect and promote workers’ health—are striving to decrease these gaps and increase people’s chances of living healthier and longer lives.

  • Issue Brief: Work and Health

    Our work affects our health in many ways – and our health affects our work. This issue brief examines how work influences our health, not only by exposing us to physical conditions that have health effects, but also by providing a setting where healthy activities and behaviors can be promoted.


  • Issue Brief: Housing and Health

    This issue brief examines the many ways in which housing can influence health and discusses promising strategies to improve America’s health by ensuring that all Americans have healthy homes.


More Resources


  • Stories

    April Manzanares

    When Wal-Mart rolled out its Personal Sustainability Project in 2006, it presented its employees with a challenge: What’s the one change you would make in your life to make the world a better place? April Manzanares, a Wal-Mart people manager in Broomfield, Colo., knew the answer right away. She wanted to be healthier. Meet April Manzanares


    Charles Gliha

    Chuck may not be a scientist or a physician but he knows firsthand that health and happiness go hand-in-hand. To him, it’s all about stepping out the front door of his house in Cleveland’s Slavic Village and having not just a sense of safety, but of well-being and fun. Meet Charles Gliha


    More Stories

  • Leadership Blog

    A Closing Word from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey on the Commission to Build a Healthier America

    by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    December 17, 2009

    After a year and a half, two major reports and national events, three regional field hearings, nine issue briefs, two chart books, and more than 50 meetings with leaders from government and the private sector, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America has come to a close. Read More

    From Congress to the Cafeteria: Healthy Food is a Priority

    by David R. Williams, Ph.D., Staff Director
    November 03, 2009

    The Commission recognized the importance of nutritious food for improving the health of Americans when it released its recommendations in April. It saw communities without any access to grocery stores and fresh produce, school meals for children containing chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, and a country disconnected from the food system it relies on for its nutritional wellbeing. But recently, the tide has begun to turn. Read More

    Poverty’s High Cost to Health

    by Staff, Commission to Build a Healthier America
    October 19, 2009

    In the September 2009 Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity webcast, RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., discusses social and economic factors that influence health, including access to high quality health care, healthy neighborhoods and grocery stores. Read More

    More Blogs

News and Events

  • Washington Post: America's economic pain brings hunger pangs

    November 23, 2009

    The nation's economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat. Read More

  • RWJF APHA Blog: Menu-Labeling’s Impact Across the Country

    November 09, 2009

    Live coverage from APHA: Analysis of menu-labeling efforts across the country have shown that, on average, 30% of people who see the posted calorie information use it. Read More

More News and Events