The Place We Live, the Health We Have
A Multi-Level, Life Course Perspective on the Effects of Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Poverty on Health and Racial Health Disparities
Published Oct 27, 2008
Although our choices and behaviors are inherently expressed at the individual level, they are often influenced and constrained by the larger social and economic context to which we are exposed. Consequently, place can play an influential role in shaping our culture, our lifestyle, our behavior, and our aspirations in life. The author investigates the relationship between metropolitan-level segregation measures and individual-level health outcomes; distinguishes between transient and persistent exposure to individual and neighborhood poverty in estimating individual and neighborhood poverty effects on health and racial health disparities; and estimates the causal impact of neighborhood disadvantage on health. Racial and economic segregation detrimentally affects the health of blacks, even after adjustment of individual socioeconomic factors, but its effects on health for whites are either neutral or beneficial. However, multiple-year measurements of individual-level and neighborhood-level socioeconomic factors lead to substantial reduction in the magnitude of the black/white health gap.