Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities

The places where we live, learn, work, and play all contribute to our ability to become and stay healthy. A Culture of Health means everyone has the basics to be as healthy as possible—like access to quality education, employment opportunities, and safe, clean neighborhoods across rural and urban settings. 

Commentary

Studying the effect of SNAP requires both high-quality data on household food purchases or diet, and a valid strategy for separating the effect of SNAP from other influences on household spending that may be related to participation in the program. To try to circumvent some of these challenges, we have obtained and analyzed large-scale retail data that follows grocery store shoppers over nearly seven years.

Housing Subsidies and Family Health

In the U.S., the key challenge for many households is housing affordability. Households paying more than one-half of a limited total income for rent have very little left over for food, transportation, education, and other critical expenses. And these rent burdens have only been growing. In 1960, fewer than one in four renters was rent-burdened (or paid more than 30 percent of their income on rent); today that fraction is nearly half.

Foreclosure’s Effects on Family Health and Well-being

A growing literature has documented the detrimental effects of housing instability (often generated by evictions and foreclosures) on health. Using the RealtyTrac foreclosure dataset, which includes information on every foreclosure action in the U.S. between 2006 and 2015, the research team will match foreclosures with Medicaid address data and follow units through the foreclosure process (from initial notification that a mortgage holder is behind on their payments through repossession by the lender).

Awaiting Trial: The Health Effects of Pretrial Detention

Each day in the U.S. there are approximately half a million individuals detained while awaiting trial. This high rate of pretrial detention may be due both to the widespread use of monetary bail, and to the limited financial resources of most defendants. Less than 50 percent of defendants in the U.S. are able to post bail even when it is set at $5,000 or less. While some defendants are detained for only a few days, others are detained for the entire period prior to the final dispositions of their cases.

How Do Grade Structures Affect Healthy Child Development?

Late elementary school and middle school has long been seen as a critical point in child development, and several studies have shown that students experience a decline in performance when they transition from elementary to middle or middle to high school, and that they do not recover from these dips. Local school boards may choose to operate schools as K-8 combined elementary and middle schools or as K-5 elementary schools with separate middle schools, but little is known about how this structuring of grades might influence health outcomes or behavior.

Better Supporting the Needs of Children in Tennessee

Leveraging more than a decade’s worth of data, the researchers will examine relationships between at-risk children’s health and education outcomes, as well as access to public services. This is vital information as states across the country, and Tennessee in particular, adopt new laws and resolutions that encompass a wide range of policy actions related to child health and education.

The Effect of SNAP on the Composition of Purchased Foods: Evidence and Implications

Researchers at Brown University released a working paper analyzing the effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on nutritional quality of purchased foods. Examining seven years of transaction records at a large U.S. grocery chain, the team found that SNAP participation had only a small effect on the nutritional quality of purchased foods.