Explaining Health Disparities in the Sexual Minority Population: The Role of Neighborhood Effects

Matthew Ruther , University of Louisville
Ning Hsieh, Michigan State University

Individual health is affected not only by characteristics and behaviors of the individual, but also by the environment in which the individual lives. Although neighborhood effects are well-established in the health literature, whether these effects are different for sexual minority populations is unknown. There is evidence that the neighborhoods in which sexual minorities reside are distinct from those in which heterosexuals reside, which could give rise to differential neighborhood effects. This research uses restricted data from the National Center for Health Statistics Research Data Center -- which include neighborhood identifiers -- to investigate health-relevant differences between the neighborhoods in which heterosexuals and sexual minorities reside. We also provide preliminary evidence on whether neighborhood effects explain any or all of the disparities in health behaviors or health outcomes between sexual minority and heterosexual populations, or mediate or moderate the effects of other covariates in explaining these disparities.

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 Presented in Session 71. Gender, Sexuality, and Population Health