Panel Paper: Commute Time and Residential Crowding Predict Vulnerability in Early Child Development for High Poverty Neighborhoods in the US

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 206 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Eryn Piper Block, Frederick Zimmerman, Efren Aguilar, Lisa Marie Stanley and Neal Halfon, University of California, Los Angeles

As a growing proportion of Americans live in urban areas, understanding the relationship between children’s health and urban design is ever more important. Critical child development occurs from birth to five years and can be impacted by environmental stressors. As cities become more dense and expensive, many people respond by moving farther out of the city or living in smaller, more crowded spaces. Such patterns could have inadvertent impacts on child health. Applying a count data framework, we examine potential relationships between early child development, residential crowding and commute time at the neighborhood level using the Early Development Instrument, a teacher-reported, population-health measure of child development for mid-year kindergarten students (N=185,012). The outcome is the number of subdomains, such as social competence or emotional maturity, for which a child is “not ready”. The sample is stratified by level of poverty at the census tract to investigate how neighborhood poverty may moderate these relationships. For the high poverty subsample, residential crowding and commute time both significantly predict vulnerability in early child development (p<0.05). We found mixed and insignificant results for the low poverty subsample. These findings align with past research on the relationship between health and poverty, which suggests that those in poverty are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards. In the context of growing cities, levels of crowding and commute time are likely to continue increasing and this study suggests we must continue to investigate the potential impacts of these patterns on child development.

Full Paper: