Minority Health Archive

The (mis)estimation of neighborhood effects: causal inference for a practicable social epidemiology

Oakes, J Michael (2004) The (mis)estimation of neighborhood effects: causal inference for a practicable social epidemiology. Social Science and Medicine, 58 (10). pp. 1929-1952.

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The resurgence of interest in the effect of neighborhood contexts on health outcomes, motivated by advances in social epidemiology, multilevel theories and sophisticated statistical models, too often fails to confront the enormous methodological problems associated with causal inference. This paper employs the counterfactual causal framework to illuminate fundamental obstacles in the identification, explanation, and usefulness of multilevel neighborhood effect studies. We show that identifying useful independent neighborhood effect parameters, as currently conceptualized with observational data, to be impossible. Along with the development of a dependency-based methodology and theories of social interaction, randomized community trials are advocated as a superior research strategy, one that may help social epidemiology answer the causal questions necessary for remediating disparities and otherwise improving the public’s health.

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Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is available at the publisher’s Web site. Access to the full text is subject to the publisher’s access restrictions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: HLM; Mixed model; Cluster trial; Community trial; Counterfactual; Assignment mechanism; Propensity score, health outcomes, neighborhood effects, social epidemiology
Subjects: Health > Disparities
Health > Public Health
Research > studies
Research > methodologies
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Depositing User: Kismet Loftin-Bell
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2011 11:34
Link to this item (URI): http://health-equity.lib.umd.edu/id/eprint/425

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