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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Jul;41(1):88-97. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.03.009.

A neighborhood wealth metric for use in health studies.

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  • 1Department of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195, USA.



Measures of neighborhood deprivation used in health research are typically based on conventional area-based SES.


The aim of this study is to examine new data and measures of SES for use in health research. Specifically, assessed property values are introduced as a new individual-level metric of wealth and tested for their ability to substitute for conventional area-based SES as measures of neighborhood deprivation.


The analysis was conducted in 2010 using data from 1922 participants in the 2008-2009 survey of the Seattle Obesity Study (SOS). It compared the relative strength of the association between the individual-level neighborhood wealth metric (assessed property values) and area-level SES measures (including education, income, and percentage above poverty as single variables, and as the composite Singh index) on the binary outcome fair/poor general health status. Analyses were adjusted for gender, categoric age, race, employment status, home ownership, and household income.


The neighborhood wealth measure was more predictive of fair/poor health status than area-level SES measures, calculated either as single variables or as indices (lower DIC measures for all models). The odds of having a fair/poor health status decreased by 0.85 (95% CI=0.77, 0.93) per $50,000 increase in neighborhood property values after adjusting for individual-level SES measures.


The proposed individual-level metric of neighborhood wealth, if replicated in other areas, could replace area-based SES measures, thus simplifying analyses of contextual effects on health.

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