“Historical redlining and contemporary racial disparities in neighborhood life expectancy”
The Transdisciplinary Institute in Applied Data Sciences (TRIADS) speaker series is co-hosted by The Center For Empirical Research in the Law and the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.
Abstract: While evidence suggests a durable relationship between redlining and population health, we currently lack an empirical account of how this historical act of racialized violence produced contemporary inequities. In this paper, we use a mediation framework to evaluate how redlining grades influenced later life expectancy and the degree to which contemporary racial disparities in life expectancy between Black working-class neighborhoods and white professional-class neighborhoods can be explained by past HOLC mapping. Life expectancy gaps between differently graded tracts are driven by economic isolation and disparate property valuation that developed within these areas in subsequent decades. Still, only a small fraction of a total disparity between contemporary Black and white neighborhoods is explained by HOLC grades. We discuss the role of HOLC maps in analyses of structural racism and health, positioning them as only one feature of a larger public-private project conflating race with financial risk. Policy implications include targeting resources to formerly redlined neighborhoods, but also the larger project of dismantling racist theories of value that are deeply embedded in the political economy of place.
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