The results are in: Marin County likes to party and is hardy.

Marin County is touting its ranking as number one in the state for healthiness from the annual County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, which assesses all 58 counties in California from most to least healthiest.

But Marin is also ranked high for binge drinking, and its racial and economic disparities are factors in the county’s overall outlook.

How did your county rate? Download the complete County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report on California. (Image courtesy of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps)

The rankings look for quality of life, social and economic factors, clinical care, health behaviors (such as smoking), and environmental factors.

San Mateo County came in as the state’s second healthiest county, with Santa Clara coming in third. With Marin, these counties also rank as the wealthiest in the state.

Specific factors in Marin County that contributed to its score include a population that is more highly educated, physically active, has a high life expectancy, and is insured with medical coverage. Marin also has access to clean water and below-average air pollution.

The annual report, which ranks counties throughout the nation, is created by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. According to, this year the focus was on economic security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The institute said that the average living wage in the U.S. is $35.80 per hour for a household with one adult and two children and it used this data to determine which counties in the state had the most people earning a living wage, something that contributes to a county’s healthiness. Marin is the third wealthiest county in the state, according to U.S. Census Bureau; it also ranks 15th nationwide.

Still number one

According to Marin County, it has been ”#1” in the annual health rankings for 12 of 13 years.

“There’s a lot to celebrate here,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer. “But when we look at a single number for something like life expectancy, as a county average, it doesn’t tell a whole story. When we dig deeper, we see our high ranking doesn’t capture the reality for many of our residents.”

Marin’s overall life expectancy is 85.2 years, but it is 78.2 years for African Americans, Willis said. A recent report from Race Counts also found that Marin County is the second-most racially disparate county in the state.

“There’s a lot to celebrate here. But when … we dig deeper, we see our high ranking doesn’t capture the reality for many of our residents.”

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer

Other things were less than rosy for Marin in the annual report. Marin had among the highest rates of excessive alcohol use among adults, though fatal accidents related to alcohol had decreased over the previous year.

Marin is tackling inequities and substance use by creating a Race Equity Plan, building affordable housing for people with chronic mental illness, opening a community substance abuse treatment center, and launching Digital Marin, which expands Internet access to residents.

Other greater Bay Area counties scored relatively high in the Rankings and Roadmaps report. From highest to lowest rankings: San Francisco County, 7; Sonoma County, 8; Alameda County, 10; Santa Cruz County, 11; Contra Costa County, 14; Monterey County, 21, and Solano County, 22.

Among the lowest California counties were Trinity at 58th, Siskiyou at 57th, and Lake at 56th. These counties are among the lowest-earning in the state, according to U.S. Census data.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.