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Exploring the Import of Health-Related Residential Mobility to Local Area Studies

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Arline T. Geronimus, John Bound

Most studies of place effects on health are ecological or multilevel analyses of cross-sectional data. But if residential mobility across local areas is health-related, common contextual interpretations of cross-sectional findings might be misleading.

Few data sets both provide information on health and migration and have sufficiently large samples to study migration across local areas. However, for the first time in 2000, the census collected data to the zip code level on respondents' place of residence five years prior. We are using these data to test the hypothesis that selective migration contributes to the observed local geographic patterning of health. This exploratory and developmental project will build on our previous work by first updating to the year 2000 local area morbidity and mortality analyses we conducted for 1980 and 1990 using standard demographic statistical techniques applied to census and vital statistics data. Second, we will explore the quality of 2000 census data on prior place of residence. Third, we will estimate the association between health and the probability that a person moved into or out of our specific local areas between the years 1995 and 2000, and the impact of differential migration on the health of the population remaining in each area in 2000. Exploring selective migration as an alternative to place effects for explaining dramatic differences in mortality profiles across local areas will help inform the most promising future directions for research on racial/ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities.

Funding Period: 08/15/2007 to 07/31/2011

Country of Focus: USA

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