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The dynamics of income and neighborhood context for population health: Do long-term measures of socioeconomic status explain more of the black/white health disparity than single-point-in-time measures?

  • Do, D. Phuong
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    Socioeconomic status, though a robust and strong predictor of health, has generally been unable to fully explain the health gap between blacks and whites in the United States. However, at both the individual and neighborhood levels, socioeconomic status is often treated as a static factor with only single-point-in-time measurements. These cross-sectional measures fail to account for possible heterogeneous histories within groups who may share similar characteristics at a given point in time. As such, ignoring the dynamic nature of socioeconomic status may lead to the underestimation of its importance in explaining health and racial health disparities. In this study, I use national longitudinal data to investigate the relationship between neighborhood poverty and respondent-rated health, focusing on whether the addition of a temporal dimension reveals a stronger relationship between neighborhood poverty and health, and a greater explanatory power for the health gap between blacks and whites. Results indicate that long-term neighborhood measures are stronger predictors of health outcomes and explain a greater amount of the black/white health gap than single-point measures.

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

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 8 (April)
    Pages: 1368-1375

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:8:p:1368-1375
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