Archive for the ‘Income Inequality’ Category

The Metropolitan Environment and Health: The Impact of Income Inequality, Racial Segregation and Urban Sprawl on the Risk of Physical Inactivity

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Background

 

Physical inactivity is a risk factor for obesity, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality. But despite health warnings, many Americans remain inactive.

 

Methods

 

The data source was the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey of US adults.  Respondents living in all metropolitan areas defined in 2000 were included.  This study used multilevel analysis combining metropolitan level factors:  income inequality (GINI Index), Black-White residential segregation (Dissimilarity Index), urban sprawl (the Urban Affairs Review Sprawl Index) and per capita income along with individual level factors:  sex, age, income, race/ethnicity and education.  The risk of being physically inactive was compared to meeting current CDC guidelines for physical activity.

 

Results

 

The final sample consisted of 121,894 adults in 315 metropolitan areas.  In the full multivariate analysis, increased levels of income inequality (odds ratio: 1.052, 95% CI = 1.033, 1.072), segregation (1.008, 95% CI = 1.005, 1.012) and urban sprawl (1.006, 95% CI = 1.003, 1008) were associated with an increased risk of physical activity.

 

Implications

 

Addressing the physical activity, and its health consequences, may require attention to the structural characteristics of the metropolitan environment.  While recent research highlights the role of the built environment as affecting inactivity, this study suggests that the social environment is also an important predictor of inactivity.

The One Percent: A Culture of Poverty?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Most sociologists have focused on the poor. Speculating here, there may be several reasons for this. They are perceived as being a major problem for society, there are a lot of them, and they are relatively easy to study: they are often powerless to resist being poked and prodded and put under a microscope.

But what about the very rich?  From warping politics to skewing US society toward greater inequality, they are a group that has had a profound impact on US society. But they are relatively opaque. We know little about how and why they behave the way they do and what might  be the implications of their behaviors. At the very minimum, they seem to be profoundly unhappy and feel they are unappreciated lately.

So one project I am working on is to use the frameworks of analysis used to understand the poor as a means to analyze the wealthy. Te results, which should be ready for publication in the spring, are very interesting and potentially informative for public policy.