Theses Doctoral

Residential Mobility, Neighborhood Contexts, and Development from Birth to Adolescence

Moore, Tiana

While a single residential move is a common experience for many families with children, residential moves that occur in higher frequency may serve as disruptive events in a child’s life. The present study draws upon data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study of children from birth to 15 years of age to examine associations between residential moves and five measures of health and cognition: emergency room utilization, body mass index, incidence of asthma attack or asthma episode, repeated school grades, and scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Age-dependent, cumulative, and differential associations by sex and race are explored. Finally, the present study examines potential moderation of these associations by neighborhood context of a child’s city of birth.

Cumulative analyses from the present study suggest that residential mobility is significantly associated with increased emergency room utilization over time, decreased body mass index over time, and a higher likelihood of a experiencing a repeated grade over time, and an increase in PPVT score over time. Age-dependent analyses of all children suggest that mobility in early childhood is significantly associated with emergency room usage and body mass index outcomes, while moves later in life are associated with increased body mass index and higher odds of repeating a school grade.

The study further reveals significant sex and racial differences in both age-dependent and cumulative analyses. Evidence for age-dependent and cumulative associations between mobility and odds of an asthma attack emerged only when sex differences were examined. Several racial differences were observed in analyses. Notably, mobility was not a significant predictor of emergency room utilization for Black children at any time point examined nor in longitudinal analyses.

Finally, evidence of consistent moderation effects by a child’s birth city neighborhood context was not found; however, significant moderation effects by neighborhood context were found for associations between mobility and emergency room utilization at age 1, BMI at age 3 and BMI at age 5.
A central aim of the present study is to contribute to the growing body of empirical research about housing mobility and correlates to developmental outcomes for children. Results from the present study’s analysis can help inform housing-centered strategies to mitigate adverse outcomes for children from families experiencing housing hardship.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Developmental Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2022