Are the poverty histories of neighbourhoods associated with psychosocial well-being among a representative sample of California mothers? An observational study

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Abstract

Background

We examine the association between the poverty histories of neighbourhoods and three indicators of psychosocial well-being—depressive symptoms, sense of control and number of stressors—in an observational study of mothers of young children in California. We also consider if length of residence in a neighbourhood moderates the association between neighbourhood poverty history and psychosocial well-being.

Methods

Data come from the Geographic Research on Well-being (GROW) Study, a subsample of mothers who completed the population-based California Maternal and Infant Health Assessment in 2003–2007 and were reinterviewed in 2012–2013. Poverty histories of neighbourhoods were constructed using the Neighbourhood Change Database (1970–2000) and American Community Survey (2005–2009). The analytic sample included 2726 women from GROW residing in 1906 census tracts.

Results

Adjusting for individual socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, women living in neighbourhoods where poverty decreased over the 40-year period had lower odds of depressive symptoms and a greater sense of control than women living in long-term, low-poverty neighbourhoods. Women living in long-term high-poverty neighbourhoods or in neighbourhoods where poverty increased over the 40-year period reported lower sense of control than women living in long-term, low-poverty neighbourhoods and these effects were modified by length of time living in the neighbourhood. No significant effects of neighbourhood poverty histories were found for number of stressors.

Conclusions

Policies aimed at reducing neighbourhood poverty may improve mothers' psychosocial well-being.

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