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Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on the Mortality of Black Male Youth: Evidence from Gautreaux.

February 2008

Mark E. Votruba, Jeffrey R. Kling.

Download 'working_paper08-03.pdf'.


We estimate the effect of neighborhood characteristics on the mortality of poor black male youth in families relocated through the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program, a residential mobility program implemented in Chicago in 1976. Within our sample (N=2850), post-placement mortality rates were substantially higher than national rates for black male youth and primarily consisted of deaths due to violence (homicides and suicides). Mortality rates were substantially lower among those relocating to Census tracts with higher fractions of residents with college degrees, which suggests that relocating to more advantaged neighborhoods can ameliorate the mortality risks faced by this population. The estimated effect declines over the post-placement period, a result consistent with evidence that Gautreaux families routinely relocated following their initial placement. A causal interpretation of these findings is undermined somewhat by evidence of neighborhood self-selection, however the estimated effect is very robust to inclusion of covariates predictive of placement tract characteristics. Mortality effect estimates relating to Census tract measures of socioeconomic deprivation other than education were weaker in magnitude and generally insignificant, suggesting that neighborhood levels of human capital more strongly affect the mortality risks faced by this population than racial composition or neighborhood poverty.

Child Well-being and Child Development, Health, Health Insurance, and Health Care, Housing