African American Health Disparities in Missouri

This report provides evidence that Missouri’s African American population lags behind the white population on many health indicators. Learn more about health disparities in the state and the role of the Missouri Foundation for Health.

According to 2010 Census estimates, Missouri’s population is nearly 6 million persons. The overall state increase in population was 7.0 percent from 2000 through 2010, somewhat below the national average of 9.7 percent. Of the 5,988,927 persons living in the state, African Americans make up 12.3 percent (734,657), a slight increase from 11.6 percent in 2000. Missouri’s proportion of African Americans is similar to that of the United States as a whole, where African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the just
over 300 million residents. In Missouri, the African American population has increased by almost 85,000 since 2000, a change of 13.1 percent. In contrast, the white population increased 5.3 percent over the same period.

This report provides evidence that Missouri’s African American population lags behind the white population on many health indicators. Given the different obstacles that urban and rural populations face in achieving high health standards, knowing where African Americans live in Missouri can provide a better understanding of some of the health disparities they encounter.

The African American population is not distributed evenly throughout the state. The largest concentrations of African Americans can be found in the metropolitan areas of St. Louis (St. Louis County and St. Louis City) and Kansas City (Jackson County). Almost 78 percent of the total African American population in Missouri resides in those three counties. This figure is slightly lower than in 2000, when 82.5 percent of Missouri’s African American residents lived in those three counties. The next largest concentrations of African Americans are found in the suburban areas of Kansas City and St. Louis, as well as in several of the next largest cities in Missouri (Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Jefferson City, and Springfield). The ‘Bootheel’ region (Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Dunklin Counties) in southeast Missouri contains the largest rural concentration of African Americans.

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Missouri Foundation for Health

is an independent philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving the health of people in our region. MFH works as a changemaker, educator and partner to promote community health and increase access to care for the uninsured and underserved.

To address health issues from a systemic perspective, MFH’s Health Policy Portfolio provides timely research and information on health-related issues. Recent topics include impact of the federal health reform law and the affordability of health coverage. Policymakers and community leaders can access a
variety of timely publications and research on issues that affect the health of Missourians at or


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