The impact of life course exposures to neighbourhood deprivation on health and well-being: a review of the long-term neighbourhood effects literature

Eur J Public Health. 2020 Oct 1;30(5):922-928. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckz153.


Background: In this review article, we detail a small but growing literature in the field of health geography that uses longitudinal data to determine a life course component to the neighbourhood effects thesis. For too long, there has been reliance on cross-sectional data to test the hypothesis that where you live has an effect on your health and well-being over and above your individual circumstances.

Methods: We identified 53 articles that demonstrate how neighbourhood deprivation measured at least 15 years prior affects health and well-being later in life using the databases Scopus and Web of Science.

Results: We find a bias towards US studies, the most common being the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Definition of neighbourhood and operationalization of neighbourhood deprivation across most of the included articles relied on data availability rather than a priori hypothesis.

Conclusions: To further progress neighbourhood effects research, we suggest that more data linkage to longitudinal datasets is required beyond the narrow list identified in this review. The limited literature published to date suggests an accumulation of exposure to neighbourhood deprivation over the life course is damaging to later life health, which indicates improving neighbourhoods as early in life as possible would have the greatest public health improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors