Do Neighborhood Poverty and Racial Composition Affect Black Birthweight?

Julien O. Teitler, Columbia University
Nancy E. Reichman, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Erin R. Hamilton, University of Texas at Austin

We use survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study that have been augmented with census tract level characteristics to estimate the effects of neighborhood poverty and racial composition on birthweight (in grams) and low birthweight (< 2500 grams) among black women. We also describe the distribution of black birth outcomes by neighborhood racial composition and poverty. Using a relatively homogeneous sample (unmarried black mothers living in urban areas), jointly estimating effects of neighborhood poverty and racial composition, and including a rich set of controls allows us to disentangle the effects of race, racial composition, socioeconomic status, and concentrated poverty. We also estimate multilevel models of the effects of city-level poverty and racial composition to address the issue of selection into neighborhoods. These analyses provide a strict test of whether the neighborhood poverty and racial composition have independent effects on birthweight.

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Presented in Poster Session 2