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Maternal and infant health in the age of (changing) segregation

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigators:   Megan Andrew, Margaret Hicken

Residential segregation is a macro-level measure of social influence and resources and has a robust and strong association with various health. Though a large literature demonstrates important relationships between residential segregation and health, further
study of these relationships is warranted given two recent trends.
First, race-ethnic residential segregation that heavily marked the middle of the last century has since declined. Second, residential segregation by income and particularly education has increased over the same period. Massey, Rothwell, and Domina note the marked shift in residential segregation from race-ethnicity to socioeconomic status over the last 40 years, christening the upward trend in socioeconomic segregation as “post-modern segregation.” Despite their importance, the implications of a shifting segregation regime for health are not well understood. Little research directly addresses newer forms of residential segregation—particularly segregation by education—and most research on residential segregation evaluates its different forms in isolation of each other. Given remaining ambiguity about the relationships between different dimensions of residential segregation and health because of the changing nature of residential segregation, we estimate models that describe the relationships between race-ethnic, income, and education segregation and infant health at the county and metropolitan statistical area (MSA)-level from 1970 to 2010. We focus on infant health because of its sensitivity to social and economic conditions, even in developed countries. Our research makes four contributions to the literature. First, we estimate models that parse the relationships between multiple dimensions of residential segregation and infant health. Second, we employ rank-order measures of residential socioeconomic segregation that better measure differences in the concentration of persons with a given income or level of education separate from their distribution in that population. Third, we determine the extent to which different forms, or dimensions, of residential segregation have increased in importance over time as the bases of residential segregation have changed. Fourth, we determine the extent to which the effects of different forms of residential segregation interact with one another over time.

Funding Period: 02/01/2011 to 06/30/2012

Country of Focus: USA

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