Downward Neighborhood Poverty Mobility during Childhood Is Associated with Child Asthma: Evidence from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) Survey

J Urban Health. 2019 Aug;96(4):558-569. doi: 10.1007/s11524-019-00356-2.


Causal evidence regarding neighborhood effects on health remains tenuous. Given that children have little agency in deciding where they live and spend proportionally more of their lives in neighborhoods than adults, their exposure to neighborhood conditions could make their health particularly sensitive to neighborhood effects. In this paper, we examine the relationship between exposure to poor neighborhoods from birth to ages 4-10 and childhood asthma. We used data from the 2003-2007 California Maternal Infant and Health Assessment (MIHA) and the 2012-2013 Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) survey (N = 2619 mother/child dyads) to fit relative risks of asthma for children who experience different types of neighborhood poverty mobility using Poisson regression controlling for individual-level demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and neighborhood satisfaction. Our results demonstrate that [1] living in a poor neighborhood at baseline and follow-up and [2] moving into a poor neighborhood were each associated with higher risk of asthma, compared with children not living in a poor neighborhood at either time. Exposure to impoverished neighborhoods and downward neighborhood poverty mobility matters for children's health, particularly for asthma. Public health practitioners and policymakers need to address downward neighborhood economic mobility, in addition to downward family economic mobility, in order to improve children's health.

Keywords: Asthma; Longitudinal; Neighborhood effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires