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Am J Public Health. 2012 Sep;102(9):1664-75. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300864. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Poverty, housing, and the rural slum: policies and the production of inequities, past and present.

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Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5411, USA.


We studied historical materials to examine the conditions that gave rise to California's rural slums, the consequences of their emergence, and how interpretations of housing, health, and welfare policies by government officials, and public health officials in particular, produced health inequities for residents of these communities. For more than a century, successive groups of immigrants and domestic migrant laborers have worked on California's farms and faced numerous challenges, among them a lack of safe and affordable housing, poor working conditions, and denial of public services. Although these experiences are not new, nor are they unique to agricultural workers, they illustrate a longer history in which inequities and injustices have been rooted in the exploitation and disposability of labor. Ameliorating or even redressing inequities will require understanding the social determinants of health through ecological approaches that can overcome the historical, social, and political causes of inequity.

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