The Lingering Effects of the Federal Government’s Redlining of Black Neighborhoods


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A new study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York finds that housing policies established more than eight decades ago that effectively trapped people of color in low income and segregated neighborhoods continue to impact the health of residents to this day, specifically resulting in poor obstetric outcomes such as pre-term birth. Beginning in the 1930s and 40s, the federal government delineated areas where mortgages could be insured. These redlining policies, which remained in effect until the 1960s, led to decades of community disinvestment, concentrated poverty in inner-city neighborhoods, and denied residents the ability to build intergenerational wealth through homeownership. Researchers focused on the region surrounding Rochester, New York. Using a New York State database of live births from 2005 to 2018, the team identified pre-term births (less than 37 weeks) by zip code, demographic characteristics of individuals, including race, and community survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau on income, poverty, and educational attainment. Preterm births are associated with a range of outcomes, including a higher risk for developing behavioral and social-emotional problems, learning difficulties, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Of the 199,088 births during the period, pre-term births occurred at...