Origins of Health Disparities: Residential Racial Segregation and the Overconcentration of Alcohol Outlets

Jennifer Scott , Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge Campus
Denise Danos, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center
Neal Simonsen, LSU Health Sciences Center
Claudia Leonardi, LSU Health Sciences Center
Robert Collins, Dillard University
Richard Scribner, LSU School of Public Health

Investigations of mechanisms driving health disparities often focus on individual level characteristics; societal level factors like systemic racism receive less attention (Bailey et al., 2017). Systemic racism affects health via practices like residential segregation (Williams & Collins, 2001a). This study explored the relationship between racially segregated communities and environments adverse to health. We conducted multilevel analyses of county-level residential segregation and census tract-level alcohol outlet density in Louisiana and Alabama, controlling for county alcohol policy and tract racial composition. High outlet density was associated with segregated counties and predominantly black tracts. Controlling for poverty the relationship between outlet density and segregation remained in predominantly black tracts within damp counties. Findings suggest policies limiting alcohol availability may concentrate alcohol outlets in black neighborhoods, consistent with historical use of alcohol policy to regulate black people in the South (Herd, 1983). Overconcentration of alcohol outlets could serve as an indicator of systemic racism.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization