Highlighting the Relationship Between Home and Health

Despite continued reductions in racial and ethnic segregation across neighborhoods, rising income inequality has led to increasing spatial segregation between low-income and high-income residents. Neighborhood segregation by race, ethnicity, and income results in starkly unequal spaces represented by measures such as proximity of households to high performing schools, access to health care, public transit, and other public amenities, as well as incidence rates of violent crimes. How the spatial characteristics and institutions within a neighborhood shape health outcomes for their residents are well documented in associative research and, in some analyses, have been demonstrated to have a causal relationship. With such a wealth of research, how can policymakers leverage the relationship between neighborhoods and public health to advance health equity?

The February 2024 issue of Health Affairs focuses on exploring the relationship between where we live and the quality of our health as well as how public policy actors and professionals in the health sector might intervene for better public health. In the issue, DUSP’s Mariana Arcaya and Justin Steil and New York University’s (NYU) Ingrid Gould Ellen offer an overview of the relationship between neighborhoods and health as well as effective policy levers to address inequity. In addition, Arcaya and Ellen served as theme advisers for the entire issue.

“We know through many associative and some causal studies that where we live, our homes and neighborhoods, affects our and our communities’ health,” says Arcaya. “By better understanding the institutional arrangements and social policies that created inequality, policymakers will be better positioned to design interventions to make gains in enhancing health equity.”

Arcaya is the Professor of Urban Planning and Public Health at MIT. Her research explores dynamic relationships between geographic contexts, particularly neighborhoods, and health. Ellen is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at NYU and the director at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Her research centers on housing and urban policy with a focus on neighborhoods and racial segregation. Steil is the Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning at MIT. His research analyzes spatial inequality in the domains of environmental justice, housing and land use policies, and health equity.


Read the full issue via Open Access 

Read Arcaya, Gould Ellen, and Steil’s article: “Neighborhoods And Health: Interventions At The Neighborhood Level Could Help Advance Health Equity”