Political Economies of Acute Childhood Illnesses: Measuring Structural Racism as Mesolevel Mortgage Market Risks

Ethn Dis. 2021 May 20;31(Suppl 1):319-332. doi: 10.18865/ed.31.S1.319. eCollection 2021.


OBJECTIVES: Health studies of structural racism/discrimination have been animated through the deployment of neighborhood effects frameworks that engage institutionalist concerns about sociopolitical resources and mobility structures. This study highlights the acute illness risks of place-based inequalities and neighborhood-varying race-based inequalities by focusing on access to and the regulation of mortgage markets.

DESIGN: By merging neighborhood data on lending processes from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act with individual health from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, this article evaluates the acute childhood illness risks of four mutually inclusive, political economies using multilevel generalized linear models.

SETTING: Chicago, IL, USA.

PARTICIPANTS: Youth aged 0 to 17 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence of 11 acute illnesses (cold/flu, sinus trouble, sore throat/tonsils, headache, upset stomach, bronchitis, skin infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, fungal disease, mononucleosis) and the past-year frequencies of 6 acute illnesses (cold/flu, sinus trouble, sore throat/tonsils, headache, upset stomach, bronchitis) are evaluated.

METHODS: Multilevel logistic regression.

RESULTS: The most theoretically consistent predictor of illness is a measure identifying neighborhoods with above-city-median levels of racial disparities in the regulation of loans – a mesolevel measure of structural racism. In areas with high levels of minority-White differences in less-regulated credit, youth are more likely to have a range of acute illnesses and experience them at more frequent intervals in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS: This article highlights the substantive and methodological importance of focusing on multidimensional representations of institutionalized political economic inequalities circumscribed and traversed by the power relations established by institutions and the state.

PMID:34045834 | PMC:PMC8143851 | DOI:10.18865/ed.31.S1.319