"What is Behind the Barrio "Effect"? Identifying Selection and Protection Mechanisms Between Coethnic Neighborhood Concentration and Favorable Mexican-American Health"
Mexican Americans living in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of coethnics (or higher levels of coethnic isolation / segregation) tend to be in more favorable health than people of Mexican origin living in less concentrated environments. This is puzzling given that ethnically segregated areas tend to be inhabited by people with lower socioeconomic status and to be structurally disadvantaged in several ways that lead to worse health outcomes, e.g., among other people of color as African Americans, Puerto Ricans. In this talk, I present initial results of a research project aiming to contribute to our understanding of the barrio effect by studying a broader set of neighborhood conditions and enclave types than prior studies in the topic, and attempting to address and quantify the heretofore unknown role of self-selection into and out of ethnic neighborhoods. We use a restricted data file from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which allows for merging contextual data from the American Community Survey and decennial censuses and the creation of household-specific residential environment measures based on the characteristics of the census geographies surrounding each dwelling. Preliminary results confirm the presence of an average positive barrio effect on Mexican American health using national data and suggest that self-selection may have a nontrivial-to-important role in explaining these patterns.
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