Distribution of Education and Population Health: An Ecological Analysis of New York City Neighborhoods
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Objectives: We assessed the relationship between distribution of education and health indicators in a large urban area to determine if distribution of education may be a determinant of population health. Methods: We studied the association between distribution of education, measured with the education Gini coefficient, and rates of 8 health indicators in 59 neighborhoods in New York City. Results: In separate adjusted ecological models, neighborhoods with more poorly distributed education had better population health indicators that might plausibly be associated with short-term changes in the social environment (e.g., homicide and infant mortality rate); there was no association between education distribution and health indicators more likely to be associated with long-term accumulation of social and behavioral stressors (e.g., cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease mortality rates). These findings were robust to measures of income and to adjustment for several potential confounders (e.g., gender and race/ethnicity). Conclusions: The presence in a neighborhood of highly educated people may be salutary for all residents, independent of the potentially deleterious consequences of income maldistribution.