Spatial Inequality in Birth Outcomes: Testing Classes of Mechanisms

Linda Zhao , Harvard University

Low birth weight and preterm birth have lasting implications for healthy child development. Existing work establish neighborhood effects in birth outcomes but are not able to disentangle more proximate pathways by which spatial contexts generate inequality. We use data from a longitudinal survey of women who delivered live singleton births at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA between 2006 and 2010 and were recruited within 10 weeks of gestation (n = 500). The primary contribution of this study is to determine whether spatial variation in birth outcomes persist when variation in prenatal care is low. Secondly, if variation remains, this study will investigate two classes of mechanisms, neighborhood social support and social stressors (i.e. perceptions of safety), to determine the contributions of each pathway. Finally, clinical measures such as blood pressure and biomarkers for angiogenesis are available longitudinally during pregnancy, allowing for causal mediation analysis.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2