Residential mobility and socio-spatial inequalities in health between neighbourhoods: Why do people in BHPS move to unhealthy areas?

Helena Tunstall, Univerisity of Edinburgh

Helena Tunstall

Co Authors
Jamie Pearce, Liz Richardson, Rich Mitchell & Niamh Shortt

residential mobility; neighbourhood deprivation; physical environment; self-rated health; Britain

Geographical analyses of migration have suggested that residential mobility can reinforce and acerbate socio-spatial inequalities in health. However, the reasons that people in poor health move to deprived areas have not often been assessed. This study uses data from the BHPS to analyse the causes of residential moves in UK and explore the processes underlying health and socially selective migration. The analysis describes patterns of mobility, characteristics of movers, the reasons for their moves and the impacts of their moves on spatial inequalities in self-rated health. The aim of the analysis is to understand better how people in poor health become resident in neighbourhoods with socio-economically and physically disadvantaged environments.

BHPS data was used to describe self-rated general health, age, socio-economic status, changes of residential neighbourhood and reasons for moves. The neighbourhoods analysed were Census Area Statistics wards in Britain (N=10,654; mean population approximately 5,500). Neighbourhood socio-economic deprivation was defined by the Carstairs 2001 deprivation index. The physical environment of the wards was described using the Multiple Environmental Deprivation Index (MEDIx), based upon indicators of air pollutants, climate, proximity to waste management or metal production/processing sites, UVB radiation and green space.

The analysis finds that selective mobility contributed moderately to the concentration of people in poor health in the most deprived environments in most age groups. Health-motivated mobility was relatively rare and selection processes varied substantially with age.