Subjective and Objective Neighborhood Characteristics and Adult Health

Margaret M. Weden, RAND
Richard M. Carpiano, University of British Columbia
Stephanie A. Robert, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This study examines objective and subjective assessments of neighborhood conditions, exploring the overlap between different sources of information on neighborhoods and the relative strength of their association with adult self-rated health. Data on perceived neighborhood quality from Wave IV (2001/2002) of the nationally representative Americans Changing Lives (ACL) panel study are merged with neighborhood-level census tract data to measure theoretically-derived subjective and objective neighborhood constructs. Structural equation models indicate that each of the subjective and objective constructs is related to health. However, perceived neighborhood quality is most strongly associated with health and mediates associations between health and the two objective constructs (neighborhood disadvantage and affluence). Additionally, individual characteristics play an important role in shaping the contribution of neighborhood conditions through selection and mediation. Our results highlight the separate contributions of both objective and perceived neighborhood quality on health, and the particularly strong contribution of perceived neighborhood quality.

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Presented in Session 122: Neighborhoods and Health