Background on Texas


Another group of students will travel to the south Texas region over 2013 spring break. This area faces a number of challenging issues in providing health care to its residents. There is limited access to health care facilities and providers, high rates of uninsured populations, and a higher-than-average prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes.


The south Texas region is marked by red line

Students will engage in projects related to health and social justice issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Examining health along the U.S.-Mexico border will provide students a unique opportunity to explore the complexity of public health problems as they impact communities and organizations both domestically and internationally. In addition, students will interact and engage with public health organizations, local researchers and community-based organizations seeking to improve the health of the community.

This field experience, sponsored by UM SPH Office of Public Health Practice  is in collaboration with University of Texas-Pan American and Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services.

Students TexasThe Border’s population explosion over the past two decades, especially in the Texas sector extending from Laredo to the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), has strained the capacity of local communities to provide basic services that most US citizens take for granted, such as safe drinking water, sewage disposal and access to medical care. More than 3 million people now live in this area, a 25% increase since 1990, which is double the population growth rate in the rest of Texas. This population is more than 80% Hispanic. Fewer than 50% have graduated f

rom high school–a primary barrier to higher paying jobs. The Border’s economic and demographic conditions, coupled with the region’s close geographic, histo

rical and cultural relationships with Mexico, have created health and environmental conditions unique to the Border which poses a daunting challenge for health care providers and the public health systems of both the U.S. and Mexico.

Regional Area: The South Texas region consists of 28 counties, including eight which border Mexico and eight along the Gulf Coast. The region has been growing tremendously and is expected to continue to grow. Through the year 2012, the South Texas region will create jobs faster than the state of Texas as a whole. These jobs will span the fishing, agriculture and international trade industries.


2011 Texas trip collecting data in the field

Population: Age-The South Texas population is relatively young. Compared to the state as a whole, a significantly higher proportion of the south Texas population is under the age of 25. Under-25s accounted for 44 percent of the region’s population in 2007, compared to 38 percent for the state. Needs for better access to health care and continuous care throughout development as well as educational needs.

Ethnicity: In 2007, 81 percent of the South Texas population was of Hispanic ethnicity (both white and non-white Hispanic), compared to 36 percent in the state overall. Laredo was 95 percent Hispanic; McAllen, 89 percent; and Brownsville 86 percent. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for just 16.3 percent of the South Texas population in 2007. By 2012, the Hispanic population is projected to rise to 82 percent in South Texas, versus 37.6 percent in the state as a whole. The concentration of Hispanics in the South Texas region is more than twice as high as the state’s and more than five times higher than the nation’s.

Photo of students at a table outside in Texas

2010 Texas trip students distributing materials

Education: In 2007, 39 percent of the region’s population over the age of 25 had less than a high school diploma, compared to 21 percent for the state and 14 percent for the US. Sixteen percent of the region’s over-25 residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 25 percent for the state and 28 percent for the US. Although there are high percentages of adults without high school diplomas, college attendance rates are growing much faster than in the rest of the state.

Household Income: The median income for all Texas households in 2005 (most recent data available to compare with county data) was $42,139. Of the 28 counties in the South Texas region, Nueces county, where Corpus Christi is located, had the highest medical household income at $38,740. Starr county had the lowest, at $17,843. Webb county (which includes Laredo) and Cameron county (which includes Brownsville) had 2005 median household incomes of $31,339 and $25,916 respectively; Hidalgo county (with the cities of Edinburg, McAllen and Mission) and Maverick (with Eagle Pass) had 2005 median household incomes of $24,808 and $24,736, respectively. The buying power of the region is larger given the cost of living in the area.


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