January 16, 2013

CITIES WERE A MISTAKE:

To Live Longer, Move to a New Zip Code (Phillip Longman, January/February 2013, Washington Monthly)

Between 1994 and 1998, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted a demonstration project known as "Moving to Opportunity." The project randomly assigned low-income families to one of three groups. Those in the first group received a voucher that they could use to help pay the rent on an apartment, provided that the apartment was not in a low-income neighborhood. Those in the second group received a voucher they could use in any neighborhood, while those in a control group received no voucher.

In 2011, HUD researchers published the results in the New England Journal of Medicine. The most dramatic finding was that people assigned to the different groups varied significantly in their weight by the end of the experiment. Going into the program, participants as a whole had been substantially more obese than the U.S. population as a whole. But ten to fifteen years later, those women who had moved to more affluent neighborhoods were one-fifth less likely to be obese than those in the control group, and also one-fifth less likely to have contracted diabetes.

This was true even though there was little difference among all the participants in the numbers who managed to move off welfare, improve their education, or find a better job. This suggests to researchers how powerfully our surroundings alone are to determining our habits and health.

Get rid of public housing and move the recipients to real neighborhoods. Posted by at January 16, 2013 8:16 PM
  
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