Beyond individual neighborhoods: A geography of opportunity perspective for understanding racial/ethnic health disparities

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There has been insufficient attention to how and why place and neighborhood context contribute to racial/ethnic health disparities, as well as to policies that can eliminate racial/ethnic health disparities. This article uses a geography of opportunity framework to highlight methodological issues specific for quantitative research examining neighborhoods and racial/ethnic health disparities, including study design, measurement, causation, interpretation, and implications for policy. We argue that failure to consider regional, racialized housing market processes given high US racial residential segregation may introduce bias, restrict generalizability, and/or limit the policy relevance of study findings. We conclude that policies must address the larger geography of opportunity within the region in addition to improving deprived neighborhoods.

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