Neighborhood Social Processes, Physical Conditions, and Disaster-Related Mortality: The case of the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave Browning et al. 2006


Research questions: 1. What structural characteristics of neighborhoods (affluence, residential stability, population density, and age structure) were associated with mortality during the heat wave? 2. What social processes and commercial characteristics of communities (collective efficacy, social network interaction and exchange, commercial density, and commercial decline) were associated with heat wave mortality (and to what extent did variation in these conditions account for structural associations)?3. Did differences in social or commercial conditions result in some communities largely escaping the lethal effects of the heat wave?
Purpose: To generate insight into neighborhood-level characteristics that buffer local populations from the impact of heat waves and potentially from other types of disasters
Hypotheses: Focus on the components of Kleinberg’s work that includes hypothesized links among neighborhood social structure, commercial infrastructure, and conditions that support or impede the engagement of elderly residents with their communities 1) estimate the mortality rate for older adults age 60 and older during the July 1995 heat wave 2) investigate the relationship between structural characteristics of neighborhoods(affluence, residential stability, population density, and age structure) and variation in heat related mortality 3) examine whether neighborhood level collective efficacy, social networks, and commercial conditions are associated with heat wave mortality and account for neighborhood structural effects on this outcome 4) consider the extent to which some neighborhoods were effectively protected from heat related mortality
Data: Four data sources are used including 1) the 1990 Decennial Census 2) the 1994-1995 Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods Community Survey (CPHDCN-CS) 3)the 1995 Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods Systematic Social Observation(PHDCN-SSO) 4) the 1990-1996 Illinois Department of Public Health Vital Statistics data on mortality in Chicago. The sample focuses on those aged 60 and older.
Main findings:
• Substantially higher magnitude of the intercept for the heat wave week (-8.23) compared to the intercept for non-heat wave weeks(-9.29)
• The mortality rate for the 1995 was 2.9 times the average rate for the entire period (e1.06)
• Age, African American race, and male sex increase the log mortality rate substantially
• As age increases, the heightened vulnerability of African Americans declines compared to Whites
• The relative advantage of women over men declines with age
• Latino women did not experience a decreased risk of death compared to men
• Kleinberg’s 2002 data from the City of Chicago coroner’s office did not indicate if the relative vulnerability of men and African Americans differed from their average levels
• There was no evidence of variation in the effects of social composition during the heat wave
• There was no evidence of a Latino advantage in mortality rates during the heat wave compared to Whites
• Kleinberg’s expectations regarding the effects of population density and social isolation held under average conditions
1. What are strategies to address vulnerabilities in order to reduce mortality?
2. How would you seek to make the case for commercial increase throughout a city?

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