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J Health Soc Behav. 1998 Mar;39(1):18-37.

Community-level socioeconomic status effects on adult health.

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RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley 94720-7360, USA.


Do the socioeconomic characteristics of a community affect one's health? This research examines whether the socioeconomic characteristics of communities are associated with the health of community residents, over and above the socio-economic characteristics of individual residents and their families. This is the first study to examine the independent associations between community-level socio-economic status (SES) and individual-level health using a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States. Results indicate that a person's health is associated with SES characteristics of the community over and above one's own income, education, and assets. However, individual-level and family-level SES indicators are stronger predictors of health than community-level SES indicators. This research suggests that improving individual-level and family-level socioeconomic circumstances may be the more direct way to improve the health of individuals, but that understanding the community context in which a person lives may also ultimately be important to improving health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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