The Effects of Gentrification on Mental Health Outcomes in Washington D.C.
Gentrification, or large increases in average socioeconomic status (SES) in previously low-income, urban neighborhoods, have increased substantially in the U.S. over the past two decades. However, gentrification has generated controversy due to its supposed negative effects on original neighborhood residents. Using census data and health data from the CDC, I explore the relationship between experiencing gentrification and mental health outcomes in D.C. neighborhoods, given that the District experienced the most intense gentrification of any city in the country between 2000 and 2013. Existing research has largely focused on the link between gentrification and displacement, although my analysis builds on recent NYU research that studies the health consequences, including anxiety and depression, for children residing in gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City. Due to a small number of observations and the nature of the data, I am unable to conclude that the effect of gentrification on mental health is statistically different from zero. However, the fact that the estimate is straddling zero in the models presented, is consistent with my hypothesis that an effect could plausibly exist in either direction. My results, in conjunction with recent research on improving housing affordability, suggest that increasing housing supply while contemporaneously providing rental subsidies to the lowest-income residents who are disproportionately displaced, would maximize the mental health effects of gentrification.
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