Neighborhood Instability, Social Support, and Health among Low-Income Mothers

Ryan Finnigan, Duke University

Past research on the association of neighborhood instability and health restricts its analyses to the neighborhood level. This paper shifts the focus on neighborhood instability to the individual level, examining the effects of neighborhood mobility on health for low-income mothers. First, the paper briefly reviews past literature and proposes a hypothesis in which social support mediates the effects of neighborhood mobility on health. Little amounts of time spent living in neighborhoods decrease mothers' attachment to neighborhood sources of social support. These sources of support are particularly important for low-income mothers, and significantly affect their health. The paper then tests this hypothesis using the panel survey component from the Welfare, Children, and Families: Three City Study. Results indicate that neighborhood stability significantly increases the probability of mothers having sufficient social support. Neighborhood stability has no direct effect on levels of mental distress, but has significant indirect effects through social support measures.

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Presented in Poster Session 4