Move Up or Move Out? A Lower Poverty Neighborhood May Improve Your Health


By Sharita Thomas, Staff Editor

Moving to Opportunity, a 1990s US department of Housing and Urban Development program allowing randomly assigned families the chance to move out of poverty stricken neighborhoods through vouchers, is inadvertently providing the ability to track health outcomes. Those moving to neighborhoods with a poverty rate of less than 10% reduced their risks for diabetes and showed health improvements similar to those produced from diet and exercise or medical intervention.

This study bolsters the case that increasing wealth will lead to increasing health outcomes. The vouchers allowed poorer families the ability to offset the costs associated with moving to a better neighborhood. Keep in mind that these neighborhoods are also designed for success with proximity to adequate parks, walking space, and fresh and healthy foods. Since the costs associated with diagnosed diabetes for the U.S. is near $174 billion and rising, I would expect to see public policy alternatives that spend proactively to combat diabetes before onset through neighborhood improvements rather than those that spend retroactively to manage diabetes.

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