Panel Paper: Estimating the Effects of Neighborhood On the Physical Health Outcomes of Latino and African-American Children

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 3:00 PM
Baltimore Theatre (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

George Galster1, Georgios Kypriotakis2, Jessica Lucero1 and Anna Santiago2, (1)Wayne State University, (2)Case Western Reserve University

Previous studies have linked neighborhood conditions to a wide array of health outcomes.  However, numerous questions remain as to the magnitude of such effects and the mechanisms by which these effects transpire across developmental stages, gender and ethnicity.  We use a natural experiment in Denver to quantify the relationships between various measures of neighborhood context and Latino and African American physical health outcomes. We address the question: For Latino and African American children from birth to age 18 who spent a majority of their childhood years living in DHA public housing, are there significant differences in their physical health outcomes (asthma, cognitive disorders)) that can be attributed to differences in their concurrent, lagged, and/or cumulative neighborhood environments, all else equal?

Our analysis is based on a sample of 1,855 Latino and African American children who resided in Denver public housing for the majority of their childhood. Data analyzed come from a large-scale retrospective survey of current and former residents of the Denver (CO) Housing Authority (DHA) as well as from qualitative interviews with 84 caregivers or their young adult children.  Because the initial assignment of households

on the DHA waiting list to either scattered-site or conventional public housing developments mimics a random process, this program represents an unusual natural

experiment holding great potential for overcoming parental geographic selection bias in

the measurement of neighborhood effects.

One out of five children in the study had asthma; one out of seven were diagnosed with cognitive health problems such as autism, ADD or ADHD, or had developmental or learning disabilities.  Utilizing logistic regression with a clustered robust error adjustment to account for clustering at the family level, our findings suggest a significant association between residence in more disadvantaged neighborhoods and poor physical health outcomes.

Study findings are discussed in terms of their contributions to the literature regarding the magnitude of cumulative neighborhood effects and the existence of lagged and/or developmental stage specific effects on the physical health of low-income Latino and African American youth. Study findings also are discussed in the context of expanding current intervention efforts to alleviate asthma and cognitive disorders from focusing only on the individual to focusing on aspects of neighborhood that I principle could be changed by planning initiatives.