Inequality

Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health

Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health
Future of Children, Volume 25 Number 1 Spring 2015

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied
09/17/2015

In theory, improving low-income families’ housing and neighborhoods could also improve their children’s health, through any number of mechanisms. For example, less exposure to environmental toxins could prevent diseases such as asthma; a safer, less violent neighborhood could improve health by reducing the chances of injury and death, and by easing the burden of stress; and a more walkable neighborhood with better playgrounds could encourage children to exercise, making them less likely to become obese.

Yet although neighborhood improvement policies generally achieve their immediate goals— investments in playgrounds create playgrounds, for example—Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied find that many of these policies don’t show a strong effect on poor children’s health. One problem is that neighborhood improvements may price low-income families out of the very neighborhoods that have been improved, as new amenities draw more affluent families, causing rents and home prices to rise. Policy makers, say Ellen and Glied, should carefully consider how neighborhood improvements may affect affordability, a calculus that is likely to favor policies with clear and substantial benefits for low-income children, such as those that reduce neighborhood violence.

Housing subsidies can help families either cope with rising costs or move to more affluent neighborhoods. Unfortunately, demonstration programs that help families move to better neighborhoods have had only limited effects on children’s health, possibly because such transi- tions can be stressful. And because subsidies go to relatively few low-income families, the presence of subsidies may itself drive up housing costs, placing an extra burden on the majority of families that don’t receive them. Ellen and Glied suggest that policy makers consider whether granting smaller subsidies to more families would be a more effective way to use these funds.

 

Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos?

Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos?
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science July 2015 vol. 660 no. 1 57-76

Ellen, Ingrid Gould, Jorge De la Roca, and Justin Steil
09/17/2015

Despite the high levels of metropolitan-area segregation that Latinos experience, there is a lack of research examining the effects of segregation on Latino socioeconomic outcomes and whether those effects differ from the negative effects documented for African Americans. We find that segregation is consistently associated with lower levels of educational attainment and labor market success for both African American and Latino young adults compared with whites, with associations of similar magnitudes for both groups. One mechanism through which segregation may influence outcomes is the difference in the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed. We find that higher levels of segregation are associated with lower black and Latino neighborhood exposure to residents with college degrees, relative to whites. We also find support for other commonly discussed mechanisms, such as exposure to neighborhood violent crime and the relative proficiency of the closest public school.

Neighborhood Effects

Neighborhood Effects
Faber, Jacob W. and Patrick Sharkey. 2015. “Neighborhood Effects.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 443-449.

Jacob William Faber and Patrick Sharkey
09/10/2015

Social scientists have long been concerned with the role of space in systems of stratification. While scholars in the field of ‘neighborhood effects’ have typically focused on how a community affects the life chances of its residents, we argue for a broader view of neighborhood effects that considers how spatial stratification serves to maintain and reproduce inequality across multiple dimensions. This article outlines major theoretical arguments exploring how local residential contexts affect social and economic outcomes at the level of individuals and communities, drawing attention to the empirical challenges to measuring neighborhood effects.

Effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions

Effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions
Besbris, Max, Jacob W. Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey. 2015. “The effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(16): 4994-4998.

Max Besbris, Jacob W. Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey
09/10/2015

Although previously theorized, virtually no rigorous empirical evidence has demonstrated an impact of neighborhood stigma on individual outcomes. To test for the effects of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions, an experimental audit of an online classified market was conducted in 2013–2014. In this market, advertisements were placed for used iPhones in which the neighborhood of the seller was randomly manipulated. Advertisements identifying the seller as a resident of a disadvantaged neighborhood received significantly fewer responses than advertisements identifying the seller as a resident of an advantaged neighborhood. The results provide strong evidence for an effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions, suggesting that individuals carry the stigma of their neighborhood with them as they take part in economic exchanges.

Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.

Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.
Faber, Jacob W. 2015. “Superstorm Sandy and the Demographics of Flood Risk in New York City.” Human Ecology, 43(3): 363-378.

Jacob William Faber
09/01/2015

“Superstorm Sandy” brought unprecedented storm surge to New York City neighborhoods and like previous severe weather events exacerbated underlying inequalities in part because socially marginalized populations were concentrated in environmentally exposed areas. This study makes three primary contributions to the literature on vulnerability. First, results show how the intersection of social factors (i.e., race, poverty, and age) relates to exposure to flooding. Second, disruption to the city’s transit infrastructure, which was most detrimental for Asians and Latinos, extended the consequences of the storm well beyond flooded areas. And third, data from New York City’s 311 system show there was variation in distress across neighborhoods of different racial makeup and that flooded neighborhoods remained distressed months after the storm. Together, these findings show that economic and racial factors overlap with flood risk to create communities with both social and environmental vulnerabilities.

Credit is Not a Right

Credit is Not a Right
in Microfinance, Rights, and Global Justice (edited by Tom Sorell and Luis Cabrera). Cambridge University Press.

Gershman, John and Jonathan Morduch
08/01/2015

Muhammad Yunus, the microcredit pioneer, has proposed that access to credit should be a human right. We approach the question by drawing on fieldwork and empirical scholarship in political science and economics. Evidence shows that access to credit may be powerful for some people some of the time, but it is not powerful for everyone all of the time, and in some cases it can do damage. Yunus’s claim for the power of credit access has yet to be widely verified, and most rigorous studies find microcredit impacts that fall far short of the kinds of empirical assertions on which his proposal rests. We discuss ways that expanding the domain of rights can diminish the power of existing rights, and we argue for a right to non-discrimination in credit access, rather than a right to credit access itself.

 

Renting in America’s Largest Cities

Renting in America’s Largest Cities
Conducted by the NYU Furman Center & commissioned by Capital One National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape

Sean Capperis, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Brian Karfunkel
05/28/2015

The supply of affordable rental housing failed to keep pace with demand in the 11 largest U.S. cities while rents rose faster than household incomes in five of the them. The NYU Furman Center/Capital One National Affordable Housing Landscape examines rental housing affordability trends in the central cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta and Miami) from 2006 to 2013 and illustrates how these trends affected renters as more households chose to rent amid rising rental costs.

Nine of the 11 largest U.S. cities have seen falling vacancy rates and rising rents, which are hurting lower- and middle-income renters. “Affordable” rent should comprise less than 30 percent of a household’s income. With the exception of Dallas and Houston, the average renter in each metropolitan area could not afford the majority of recently available rental units in their city. The cities were even less affordable to low-income renters, who could afford no more than 11 percent of recently available units in the most affordable cities.

Since 2006, there has been an increase in the share of low- and moderate-income renters who are severely rent-burdened— meaning they face rent and utility costs equal to at least half of their income. In 2013, over a quarter of moderate-income renters were severely rent-burdened in seven of the cities in the study, while a significant majority of low-income renters in all 11 cities were severely rent-burdened. The percentage of low-income renters facing severe rent-burdens continued to rise in each of these cities and low-income renters are often most acutely impacted by the lack of affordable housing.

The study also found that in five cities, the proportion of moderate-income renters experiencing severe rent burdens grew remarkably, while in other cities, the situation for moderate-income renters either changed little or even improved.

Health and Health Care in BRIC Cities: Ideas for Collaborative Research.

Health and Health Care in BRIC Cities: Ideas for Collaborative Research.
Working Paper

Rodwin, VG.
05/09/2015

Available on SSRN database here.

The largest cities in the wealthy nations all face an unprecedented challenge: how to meet the needs of a population that lives longer, has a declining birth rate, is generally healthier, but also increasingly beset by the rise of chronic illness. The World Cities Project (WCP) has produced two books and numerous articles based on comparisons among, and within five of the world's most dynamic cities: New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. These cities are centres of economic growth and finance, culture and media, sophisticated transportation systems and innovations of all kinds. They are renowned for their centres of excellence in medical care, top-ranking medical schools, institutes of bio-medical research, and public health infrastructure. Likewise, they attract some of the wealthiest, as well as the poorest populations of their nations, which forces their health care systems to confront the challenge of confronting glaring inequalities and redesigning their health care systems.

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Published online before print February 20, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0022427815572633

Johanna Lacoe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
02/20/2015

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

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