Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Public Health. 2016 Jun;26(3):417-21. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv210. Epub 2015 Nov 14.

Neighbourhood effects in health behaviours: a test of social causation with repeat-measurement longitudinal data.

Author information

Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Clinical Chemistry, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland Fimlab Laboratories, Tampere, Finland.
Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.



Neighbourhood characteristics have been associated with health behaviours of residents. We used longitudinal data to examine whether neighbourhood characteristics (level of urbanization and socioeconomic status) are related to within-individual variations in health behaviours (alcohol consumption, smoking, exercise and self-interest in health) as people live in different neighbourhoods over time.


Participants were from the Young Finns prospective cohort study (N = 3145) with four repeated measurement times (1992, 2001, 2007 and 2011/2012). Neighbourhood socioeconomic status and level of urbanization were measured on the level of municipality and zip code area. Within-individual (i.e. fixed-effect) regression was used to examine whether these associations were observed within individuals who lived in different neighbourhood in different measurement times.


People living in more urban zip code areas were more likely to smoke (b = 0.06; CI = 0.03-0.09) and drink alcohol (b = 0.11; CI = 0.08-0.14), and these associations were replicated in within-individual analysis-supporting social causation. Neighbourhood socioeconomic status and urbanization were associated with higher interest in maintaining personal health (b = 0.05; CI = 0.03-0.08 and b = 0.05; CI = 0.02-0.07, respectively), and these associations were also similar in within-individual analysis. Physical exercise was not associated with neighbourhood characteristics.


These data lend partial support for the hypothesis that neighbourhood differences influence people's health behaviours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center