Neighborhood Disorder and Individual Health: New Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Study

Rebecca Casciano, Princeton University

This paper examines the relationship between neighborhood disorder and individual-level health outcomes. It draws on data from the Monitoring Mt. Laurel Study, a new survey-based study that enables us to compare residents living in an affordable housing project in a middle-class New Jersey suburb to a comparable group of non-residents. Using these new data, we test the hypothesis that living in an affordable housing project in a middle class suburb reduces a poor person’s exposure to disorder and violence compared to what they would have experienced in the absence of access to such housing, and that this lesser exposure to disorder and violence yields improvements in health that can be attributed to residents’ reduced stress burden. We find that residents of the project are much less likely to be exposed to stress, violence and disorder and that these differences in exposure explain small health differentials between the two groups.

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Presented in Session 32: Income, Neighborhoods, and Health