Eviction in early childhood and neighborhood poverty, food security, and obesity in later childhood and adolescence
Evidence from a longitudinal birth cohort
Leifheit, K. M., Schwartz, G. L., Pollack, C. E., Black, M. M., Edin, K. J., Althoff, K. N., & Jennings, J. M. (2020). Eviction in early childhood and neighborhood poverty, food security, and obesity in later childhood and adolescence: Evidence from a longitudinal birth cohort. SSM - Population Health, 11, Article 100575. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100575
Eviction affects a substantial share of U.S. children, but its effects on child health are largely unknown. Our objectives were to examine how eviction relates to 1) children's health and sociodemographic characteristics at birth, 2) neighborhood poverty and food security at age 5, and 3) obesity in later childhood and adolescence. We analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal cohort of children born in 20 large U.S. cities. Children who lived in rental housing with known eviction histories and measured outcomes were included. We compared maternal and infant health and sociodemographic characteristics at the time of the child's birth. We then characterized the associations between eviction and neighborhood poverty and food security at age 5 and obesity at ages 5, 9, and 15 using log binomial regression with inverse probability of treatment and censoring weights. Of the 2556 children included in objective 1, 164 (6%) experienced eviction before age 5. Children who experienced eviction had lower household income and maternal education and were more likely to be born to mothers who were unmarried, smoked during pregnancy, and had mental health problems. Evicted and non-evicted children were equally likely to experience high neighborhood poverty at age 5 (prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.03, 95% CI 0.82, 1.29) but had an increased prevalence of low food security (PR = 2.16, 95% CI 1.46, 3.19). Obesity prevalence did not differ at age 5 (PR = 1.01; 95% CI 0.58, 1.75), 9 (PR = 1.08; 95% CI 0.715, 1.55); or 15 (PR = 1.05; 95% CI 0.51, 2.18). In conclusion, children who went on to experience eviction showed signs of poor health and socioeconomic disadvantage already at birth. Eviction in early childhood was not associated with children's likelihood of neighborhood poverty, suggesting that eviction may not qualitatively change children's neighborhood conditions in this disadvantaged sample. Though we saw evidence supporting an association with low child food security at age 5, we did not find eviction to be associated with obesity in later childhood and adolescence.