The impact of crime on birth weight: exploring the definition of residential environment
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Low birth weight is a prime indicator for infant mortality, is strongly correlated with several life course diseases, and is indicative of future cognitive, developmental and behavioral problems. Furthermore, there is a significant racial disparity for this health outcome, such that Black women are nearly twice as likely as White women to deliver a low birth weight baby. Fear of crime has each been hypothesized to induce maternal stress, which has been shown to impact the growth of the fetus, resulting in low birth weight. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of reported crime on birth weight across two different definitions maternal proximate residential environments (PREs). Specifically, a comparison between the standard, census-defined PRE is compared to that of a distance-defined PRE. The distance-defined PRE is centered at the face-block on which a mother resides, and includes structural and contextual measures of the environment at both an eighth-mile and quarter-mile radius from that center. The purpose of such a definition is to provide a more comprehensive view of the mother's residential environment than can be provided by a standard census defined environment. To fully examine the impact of crime on this birth weight, measures of crime are examined at a high-level of geographic resolution and at various time intervals prior to birth. Results from linear regression models do not support the hypothesis that reported crime influences birth weight in either the distance-defined or census defined PRE model. However, while measures of model fit are comparable across PRE definitions, non-nested model specification tests suggest that the distance-defined model outperforms the census-defined model in predicting birth weight.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Method -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. Descriptive statistics of original dataset -- Appendix B. Distance-defined descriptive statistics - original dataset -- Appendix C. Census-defined descriptive statistics - original dataset -- Appendix D. Results for distance-defined model specifications -- Appendix E. Results for census-defined model specifications