Did Infant Health Improve in US Cities the 1990s?

Danielle H. Ferry, National Bureau of Economic Research
Sanders Korenman, City University of New York at Baruch

During the 1990s, gaps in rates of low birth weight and preterm birth between black women who resided in large center cities and those living in their suburbs declined substantially; infant health improved in center cities but changed little (or possibly deteriorated) in the surrounding suburbs. Using birth records from 1990-2001 and data from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, this paper documents changes in the spatial distribution of poor infant health within metropolitan areas with large African-American populations, and explores why these changes may have occurred. We first document the shift in the spatial distribution of demographic and socioeconomic risk factors that favored infant health in center cities in the 1990s. We explore the contributions to improved relative center-city infant health of the decline in sociodemographic and behavioral risk factors, the out-migration of higher-risk women to suburbs, and the in-migration of lower-risk women to the center cities.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology