Mechanisms of Neighborhood Disadvantage and Health

Karen Gerken, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

There is a demonstrated link between neighborhood conditions and health, such that living in poor communities is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes. However, less attention has been paid to how neighborhood disadvantage operates to affect health, leaving a black box of unexplained mechanisms. Using a longitudinal life course framework and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we investigate the mechanisms underlying the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage in early life and cardiovascular health in young adulthood. Our paper is one of the first to use a rich longitudinal set of individual, family, and neighborhood indicators that illuminate underlying stress processes related to neighborhood context. Specifically, we focus on two sets of mechanisms: those at the individual and family level (parenting, depression, health behaviors) and those at the neighborhood level (crime/safety, neighborhood integration, the built environment).

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Presented in Poster Session 8: Adult Health and Mortality