Lifting Boats Not Closing Gaps: Child Health Outcomes in Distressed Cities 1992-2002

Silver D, Mijanovich T, Uyei J, Kapadia F, and BC Weitzman.
American Journal of Public Health, 101(2): 278-84

Objectives. We compared cause-specific mortality and birth rates for children and youths aged younger than 18 years in 100 US cities from 1992 through 2002.

Methods. We used 5 census indicators to categorize the 100 most populous US cities in 1990 as economically distressed or nondistressed. We used Poisson regression to calculate rate ratios for cause-specific mortality and birth rates, comparing distressed cities to nondistressed cities overall and by race/ethnicity from 1992 through 2002. We also calculated rates of change in these variables within each city over this period.

Results. Despite improvements in health for the study population in all cities, disparities between city groups held steady or widened over the study period. Gaps in outcomes between Whites and Blacks persisted across all cities. Living in a distressed city compounded the disparities in poor outcomes for Black children and youths.

Conclusions. A strong national economy during the study period may have facilitated improvements in health outcomes for children and youths in US cities, but these benefits did not close gaps between distressed and nondistressed cities.

Wagner Faculty