Exploring the Connection Between Residential Segregation and Health

November 11, 2010  |  

(Diverse: Issues in Higher Education) — Dr. David R. Williams grew up on Saint Lucia, a Caribbean island where 80 percent of the population is Black and residential segregation has not been an issue. But it remains a big one in the United States, he maintains, and in a way not obvious to most people.  “I argue that residential segregation by race is the fundamental cause of racial disparities in health in the United States,” says Williams, a professor of public health, sociology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  Williams has reached that sweeping conclusion with a sociologist’s reasoning. “Socioeconomic status is a stronger predictor of variations in health than cigarette smoking,” he says, adding that racially segregated neighborhoods come with underresourced schools, few job opportunities and depressed income levels, contributing to the lower socioeconomic status of African-American residents in particular.

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