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Poverty, affluence, and income inequality: neighborhood economic structure and its implications for health

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  • Wen, Ming
  • Browning, Christopher R.
  • Cagney, Kathleen A.
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    Abstract

    In this paper, we attempt to verify that neighborhood economic structure influences individual health over and above other individual characteristics, and to comparatively evaluate the effects of neighborhood concentrated affluence, concentrated poverty and income inequality in relation to individual health in the USA. We also explore physical environment, health-enhancing services, social hazards (crime) and social resources as mechanisms operating at the neighborhood level that may help to explain the influence of structural economic conditions on health. We use Hierarchical Ordinal Logit Models to examine a rich multi-level data set. Results indicate that affluence exerts significant contextual effects on self-rated health while poverty and income inequality at the neighborhood level are not important structural factors. Moreover, we find that a composite measure of social resources distinguishes itself in both explaining the impact of concentrated affluence and exerting an independent contextual effect on individual health. Physical environment, or the level of physical disorder in the neighborhood, also mediates the effect of affluence on self-rated health, although to a lesser degree than social resources. Our empirical findings suggest that different dimensions of economic structure do not in fact have unique and additive contributions to individual health; the presence of affluent residents is essential to sustain neighborhood social organization which in turn positively affect health.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 5 (September)
    Pages: 843-860

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:5:p:843-860

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    Related research

    Keywords: Neighborhood Socioeconomic status Social capital Physical disorder Health USA;

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    Cited by:
    1. Stavros Petrou & Emil Kupek, 2008. "Social capital and its relationship with measures of health status: evidence from the Health Survey for England 2003," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 127-143.
    2. Carroll-Scott, Amy & Gilstad-Hayden, Kathryn & Rosenthal, Lisa & Peters, Susan M. & McCaslin, Catherine & Joyce, Rebecca & Ickovics, Jeannette R., 2013. "Disentangling neighborhood contextual associations with child body mass index, diet, and physical activity: The role of built, socioeconomic, and social environments," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 106-114.
    3. J. Cramm & V. Møller & A. Nieboer, 2012. "Individual- and Neighbourhood-Level Indicators of Subjective Well-Being in a Small and Poor Eastern Cape Township: The Effect of Health, Social Capital, Marital Status, and Income," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 105(3), pages 581-593, February.
    4. Badland, Hannah & Whitzman, Carolyn & Lowe, Melanie & Davern, Melanie & Aye, Lu & Butterworth, Iain & Hes, Dominique & Giles-Corti, Billie, 2014. "Urban liveability: Emerging lessons from Australia for exploring the potential for indicators to measure the social determinants of health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 64-73.
    5. Biglan, Anthony & Cody, Christine, 2013. "Integrating the human sciences to evolve effective policies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S152-S162.
    6. Caspi, Caitlin E. & Kawachi, Ichiro & Subramanian, S.V. & Tucker-Seeley, Reginald & Sorensen, Glorian, 2013. "The social environment and walking behavior among low-income housing residents," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 76-84.
    7. Karlsdotter, Kristina & Martín Martín, José J. & López del Amo González, M. Puerto, 2012. "Multilevel analysis of income, income inequalities and health in Spain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1099-1106.
    8. Chen, Zhuo & Gotway Crawford, Carol A., 2012. "The role of geographic scale in testing the income inequality hypothesis as an explanation of health disparities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(6), pages 1022-1031.
    9. Browne-Yung, Kathryn & Ziersch, Anna & Baum, Fran, 2013. "‘Faking til you make it’: Social capital accumulation of individuals on low incomes living in contrasting socio-economic neighbourhoods and its implications for health and wellbeing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 9-17.
    10. Mark R. Montgomery & Paul C. Hewett, 2004. "Urban Poverty and Health in Developing Countries: Household and Neighborhood Effects," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-01, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    11. Rostila, Mikael & Kölegård, Maria L. & Fritzell, Johan, 2012. "Income inequality and self-rated health in Stockholm, Sweden: A test of the ‘income inequality hypothesis’ on two levels of aggregation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1091-1098.

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