Exposure to Segregation and Health Outcomes in Childhood

Bethany Boettner, Ohio State University

Racial disparities in health have been linked to residential segregation patterns. Yet, research on segregation and health largely ignores childhood well-being and cumulative exposure to segregated neighborhoods. I address the relationships between segregation and health for White, African American, and Hispanic children, including the effects of cumulative exposure to segregation using data from five waves of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey Kindergarten Class 1998-1999. I find that the relationship between segregation and physical health varies by race, and cumulative measures of segregation are more powerful predictors of childhood health than indicators captured at a single point in time. The findings also suggest that the health of Hispanic children is more sensitive to residential segregation than that of White and Black children. Hispanic children living in areas with greater exposure to other Hispanics and more separation from other racial groups have lower rates of asthma but higher rates of obesity.

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Presented in Session 103: The Neighborhood Context of Child Obesity