In some communities, large corporations are taking over and plucking the wind out of the sales of small businesses. However, in other counties, small businesses are thriving and their residents are reaping health benefits as a result.
A new study finds that areas in the United States with a greater density of small businesses and a sense of community have better health. The study, ‘The Health and Wealth of US Counties: How the Small Business Environment Impacts Alternative Measures of Development’ has revealed some interesting discoveries.
Overall, residents who lived in counties that had more small locally-owned businesses had lower rates of diabetes, obesity, and death.
“Our findings suggest that the rewards of a vibrant small business sector are multidimensional. In addition to job creation, small businesses yield important non-economic rewards to communities that may improve the health of local residents, said Troy C. Blanchard, PhD., lead author and associate professor of sociology at LSU.
It’s important to note that it’s not just a city or county with a handful of small businesses. These were counties with a large number of locally-owned and operated businesses along with a high number of entrepreneurs.
So Why the Better Health?
The study suggests that it is because of the spirit that entrepreneurs bring to their towns, especially when multiple small businesses emerge and share this positive spirit. It gives locals a reason to take care of their own lives when they see local businesses holding up against the corporate giants.
The national study, conducted by sociologists at Baylor University and LSU, surveyed more than 3,000 counties in the United States and collected health, housing, and business data from their residents. Each of these is an important element to getting accurate results as the economy is another element in the rise or fall of health.
The results have proven that the notion that small businesses don’t improve health because of lack of health insurance, they are actually helping make locals healthier just by being there.
The community aspect of a wide variety of local businesses and entrepreneurs also helps control common public health problems. Communities with local businesses tend to lean more toward local care and raising money for free health care, medical clinics, hospitals and medics as opposed to tactics used in other cities. These counties also tend to have more local farmer’s markets as the residents are encouraged to shop locally for more than personal items.
The LSU/ Baylor study can be added to a Gallup Poll study which found that entrepreneurs and small businesses owners benefit when it comes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
Added to the rise in healthy residents of communities with a great deal of local businesses comes the benefit of lower suicide rates, lower crime rates, and much better school performance among their students.
“This study highlights not only the economic benefits of small business, but its contributions to health and well-being,” Blanchard said.