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This research contributes to medical sociology, neighborhood research, and life course studies by synthesizing relevant concepts from each field in order to offer a more complete understanding of how and why place impacts health. This achieved through the use of a life course framework that examines the influence of neighborhoods on self-rated health and allostatic load from adolescence through the transition into adulthood using a longitudinal, nationally representative data set that includes detailed information on early life health, as well as detailed data regarding adult health and well-being. Specifically, this dissertation contributes to the aforementioned by examining the following questions: 1) What are the effects of neighborhood structural characteristics on two measures of physical health at three different time points and 2) What mediating mechanisms account for their effects? The findings of this research further bolster existing evidence regarding the importance of the neighborhood environment for physical health. However, the results also extend the existing knowledge base in important ways. This work demonstrates that neighborhood structural characteristics, measured as disadvantage, affluence, and immigrant concentration, influence both subjective and objective measures of physical health at multiple points throughout the life course. Health outcomes such as allostatic load, self-rated health, and mean health are sensitive to compositional structural attributes of the community environment, but there are differences in which aspects of place matter most, the timing of the neighborhood effects, as well as differences in the way that traditional identified mediating mechanisms operate.
Allostatic load, Health, Life Course, Neighborhoods, Self-rated health
Date of Defense
March 31, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sociology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jill Quadagno, Professor Directing Dissertation; Rebecca Miles, University Representative; Karin Brewster, Committee Member; Kathryn Harker Tillman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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