Age and Neighborhood Change: Health Consequences of Neighborhood Decline for Older Adult Residents

Kathleen A. Cagney, University of Chicago
Christopher Browning, Ohio State University
James Iveniuk, University of Chicago

Extant literature suggests that neighborhood physical and social disorder are associated with poor health. The extent to which a decline in the physical character of a community leads to a commensurate change in health is relatively unexplored. We exploit the fortuitous timing of the two waves of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project – 2005/6 and 2010/11 – to investigate the link between changes in neighborhood conditions, potentially due to the economic downturn, and changes in health. Our analytic strategy employs Generalized Latent Linear and Mixed Models to examine changes in health (e.g., BMI, CRP) over the two waves regressed on changes in neighborhood physical environments. Drawing on social disorganization theory, we hypothesize a number of mechanisms through which increased foreclosure rates and the corresponding decline in the condition of housing might affect health. Preliminary evidence suggests that degraded physical surroundings are associated with higher CRP and BMI.

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Presented in Session 15: Neighborhood and Contextual Influences on Health