The Role of Infant Health Problems in Constraining Interneighborhood Mobility: Implications for Citywide Employment Networks

Megan Evans, Corina Graif, Stephen A. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infant health problems are a persistent concern across the United States, disproportionally affecting socioeconomically vulnerable communities. We investigate how inequalities in infant health contribute to differences in interneighborhood commuting mobility and shape neighborhoods’ embeddedness in the citywide structure of employment networks in Chicago over a 14-year period. We use the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer–Household Dynamics’ Origin–Destination Employment Statistics to analyze commuting networks between 2002 and 2015. Results from longitudinal network analyses indicate two main patterns. First, after the Great Recession, a community’s infant health problems began to significantly predict isolation from the citywide employment network. Second, pairwise dissimilarity in infant health problems predicts a lower likelihood of mobility ties between communities throughout the entire study period. The findings suggest that infant health problems present a fundamental barrier for communities in equally accessing the full range of jobs and opportunities across the city—compounding existing inequalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-577
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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