Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Sanjaya DeSilva

Project Advisor 2

Olivier Giovannoni

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Despite improvements in average health outcomes over the last century, the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities in health remains a primary concern in the United States. Racial and ethnic disparities in health have a spatial dimension—poor health status is concentrated in certain neighborhoods. This project examines the causes of racial and ethnic health disparities at the neighborhood level in New York City. As a diverse city with extensive variations in race, ethnicity, and immigration status across neighborhoods, NYC is a unique setting for the study of the impact of neighborhood- level characteristics on health status. The project uses body weight, hypertension, and self-reported health as main health indicators. The findings of the project suggest that racial and ethnic health disparities at the neighborhood level in NYC are explained by both individual and neighborhood-level conditions. Neighborhood characteristics, including racial and ethnic concentration, segregation, and education, have significant associations with health status over and above the influence of individual-level characteristics. Individuals who live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of Black residents are at a higher risk of obesity relative to their counterparts in neighborhoods with lower concentrations of Black residents. Living in segregated neighborhoods elevates residents’ risk of poor self-reported health. Individuals who live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of residents who are more highly educated have lower risks of obesity, hypertension, and poor self-reported health relative to those who live in neighborhoods whose residents have lower levels of education. Policy interventions to reduce and eliminate neighborhood racial and ethnic health disparities must prioritize the need to improve neighborhood conditions by creating healthier environments with greater access to healthy food and recreational facilities and promoting integrated neighborhoods with better access to educational and employment opportunities.

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