Despite substantial research, the drivers of the widening gap in life expectancy between rich and poor in the U.S. —the so-called longevity gap— remain unknown. Recent research has suggested that contextual income mobility (e.g., county-level socioeconomic mobility) may play an essential role in explaining the longevity gap. However, previous studies have used mostly aggregate or cross-sectional data to examine the link between exposure to a given income mobility regime and individual’s health and mortality. Some of the critical flaws in those studies are associated with the ecological fallacy inherent in analyses of aggregated data and with selection processes that characterize residential mobility over time. This paper aims to extend previous research by estimating the effect of average exposure to mobility regimes during childhood and adolescence on adult health. We use both the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) with geocoded data to assess the link between county-level income mobility (Chetty’s estimates), behaviors (smoking) and health conditions and status (self-reported health, BMI, depression). Furthermore, we use cohorts optimally match Chetty’s estimates of income mobility in the U.S. (1980-1982) and account for selection and time-varying confounders using marginal structural models (MSM). Overall, we provide a more precise test of the hypothesis that childhood exposure to income mobility regimes may determine health status later in life and contribute to longevity gaps.
Sebastián Daza Aranzaes, is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Bachelors and Masters in Sociology from the Catholic University of Chile. His research focuses on how socioeconomic mobility affects health and mortality, the consequences of incarceration for health, reentry experiences of women just released from prison, and social networks. He relies on statistical and computational methods in my research, with an emphasis on data science and agent-based modeling. Currently, he is a Senior Researcher at the IEGD in Madrid, and working on the project ECHO with Alberto Palloni.