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Curriculum Vitae

Moving to Health: Consequences of Residential Preferences and Avoidance for Health Inequality (2011)

Michael D. M. Bader Presented at the RWJF Health & Society Scholars Annual Meeting, Bethesda, Maryland.


An overlooked aspect in our understanding of contextual effects on health is the role of spatial sorting through the residential mobility process. I argue that the process of residential sorting that occurs through residential mobility should be investigated as a site of understanding the causes of health disparities. While residential sorting is often used to critique studies finding associations between neighborhood conditions and individual health outcomes, the argument is frequently advanced that we should "control for" sorting. By simply looking to control for residential sorting rather than seeking to explain the role of inequalities in the residential sorting process on the exposure to risks and clustering of outcomes, researchers and policy makers might overlook important aspects regarding the perpetuation of health disparities. For example, aggregate residential mobility patterns could influence where firms locate health-promoting commercial investments like supermarkets. I present preliminary findings that provide avenues to begin exploring how health status is linked to residential preferences and economic and racial disparities that could perpetuate health inequality.