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Health, Neighborhood Disadvantage

Christopher R. Browning and Kathleen A. Cagney


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Although health is often seen as a product of individual or micro-level determinants, researchers are increasingly recognizing the role of neighborhood context in influencing a broad range of health outcomes. The concept of “neighborhood” typically refers to a geographically contained residential space the boundaries of which may be defined ecologically (e.g., major streets or railroad tracks), administratively (e.g., census tracts), socially (e.g., with respect to neighbor networks), or symbolically (e.g., shared identification with a local space). Extant research offers evidence of a link between economic disadvantage at the neighborhood level and outcomes such as mortality, morbidity, and functional status. A number of perspectives on the mechanisms linking neighborhood structural characteristics to health have emerged. These approaches emphasize social capital, subcultural orientations, stress, and access to care and other health-enhancing resources. Neighborhood social capital and health. Social capital has been defined as aspects of social structure used by actors to facilitate the achievement of goals ( Coleman 1990 ). We focus here on the role of social network ties and collective efficacy in promoting health at the community level. First, the increasingly vast literature on the role of informal social network supports in fostering health at the individual or egocentric ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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