Residential mobility in the California Teachers Study: implications for geographic differences in disease rates

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Apr;60(7):1547-55. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.07.018.


Background: Especially for cancers with long latency periods, such as breast cancer, the issue of residential mobility hinders ecologic analyses seeking to examine the role of environmental contaminants in chronic disease etiology. This study describes and evaluates characteristics associated with residential mobility in a sub-sample of the California Teachers Study (CTS) cohort.

Methods: In 2000, lifetime residential histories were collected for a sub-sample of 328 women enrolled in the CTS; women's degree of residential mobility and associated factors were analyzed.

Results: While most women moved many times during their lives (average = 8.9), the average number of years at their residence when they enrolled in the study was reasonably long (15.1 years). Age strongly predicted duration at current residence but was not related to the number of lifetime residences. After adjusting for age, California-born women and women living in high socioeconomic status (SES) neighborhoods were significantly more residentially stable. Agreement between self-reported urbanization of recent residences and that based on census data of the geocoded residences was very good (80% concordant). Among women currently living in urban areas, an average of 43.3 years, or 77%, of their lifetimes were spent in urban residences; among women currently living in a rural area, an average of 37.3 years, or 67% of their lifetimes were spent in rural residences.

Conclusions: This suggests that analyses of incidence rates based on current residence, while not capturing a woman's full exposure history, may reasonably reflect some aspect of longer term chronic exposures, especially those related to urbanization, at least in professional women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bias
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Censuses
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Faculty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Dynamics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Urbanization